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I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates Year in Review 2020

I'm back with my annual review of what happened the past year with North Carolina's Favorite(?) Interstates, I-73 and I-74, and with other interstate routes proposed and/or under construction. Needless to say, 2020 was a difficult year. The Covid-19 pandemic had its effects on road construction too. NCDOT seeing a decline in its gas tax revenues put a hold on all future projects in the spring. In the fall the 2020-2029 State TIP was revised, restoring funding for some future projects, but also delaying or postponing many more. In my summary by route I'll discuss what was planned at the beginning of 2020 and where things stand at the end of the year.


Was a very quiet year for I-73. No additions to the route, but a couple construction projects for future routings. In Richmond County work on the I-73/I-74 Richmond Bypass continued. Substantial clearing for the future interchange with the US 74 Rockingham Bypass was seen, as here in May, photo by Tracy Hamm:


As of November 30, the project was 17.6% complete, with a completion date of April 2024. A project was also completed at the other end of the route in Rockingham County to replace a bridge in Stoneville along US 220 with new interstate standard one, here's a photo from earlier this month, courtesy of Strider:





Things were more active when it came to I-74 in 2020. In addition to the Rockingham Bypass construction, work continued on the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway with the first two sections opening up during the second half of the year. The first, on September 5, from the newly re-designated Salem Parkway, US 421 to US 158, and the second on December 26 from US 158 to US 311. Here's a photo that captures signage for both exits, courtesy of Andrew B. Futrell:


Work continued on the rest of the route between US 311 and US 52 during the year, where some substantial progress can be seen, as in this photo from David Johnson of the new Old Hollow Road bridge over the future Beltway in September:


As of December 17, work on the section between US 311 and NC 66/University Parkway was 60.4% complete, with a completion date of late September next year. Separate work on the future interchange between the Beltway and US 52 is to be completed later, in November 2022. Currently that contract is just over 1/2 complete (50.1%) as of November 30. Substantial changes have been made to US 52 in the area of the interchange, as seen last September in this photo by David Johnson looking south:


The next segment of the Beltway to be constructed is from I-40 to US 421, that is tentatively to be let on December 2021. Work on the other end of the route in Columbus County is more piecemeal, but a new interchange was opened on June 12 at Hallsboro Road. Here's a photo of the new interchange, courtesy of NCDOT:

The next intersection to be upgraded at the other end of Columbus County will be that for Boardman Road. That contract is to be let in April 2021. This project had funding restored in the revision of the 2020-2029 State TIP.

Other Future Interstates



There was no change in status to Interstate 42 during 2020. It is still a future route and some projects due to start in 2020 were postponed. In Johnston County work was to start on replacing the current US 70 intersections with Wilson Mills Road and Swift Creek Road to interchanges starting in the fall of 2020, but this project has now been postponed to April 2021. Work on the Kinston Bypass was to start also in 2020 on the current US 70 Freeway portion, however due to COVID-19 related budget shortfalls, this project as well as the rest of the Bypass on a new alignment won't start now until after 2029. Work to upgrade the freeway section between Kinston and New Bern continued. As of November 7, 2020 the project was 94.4% complete, the official completion date was pushed back during the year from March 1 to March 15, 2021. Work to upgrade US 70 through James City continued, but mostly on paper as this being a design-build contract. Actual construction is to start in 2021. As of November 22, 2020 work was 13.5% complete with a completion date for 2023. Work on the section between James City and the Havelock Bypass that was to start this year was delayed due to COVID related funding issues, work will start in 2023 at the earliest. Work on the Havelock Bypass continues, having started on August 30, 2019. As of November 22, 2020 the project is 20.5% complete. The current completion date is May 2024. Here's a photo posted by NCDOT of bridges for the Bypass being built over Slocum Creek:


Despite a report in early 2019 that the Goldsboro Bypass had received permission to be signed as I-42, no signs appeared during the past year.



There was no real progress on building I-87 during 2020 and due to COVID-19 budget shortfalls, many of the interstate's projects have been delayed until the mid-2020s, at least. Looks like drivers will be looking at this sign for a few more years:


Here's some of the sad news. Work on widening the US 64/264 Freeway from Rolesville Road to US 64/US 264 Split in Zebulon and upgrading it to interstate standards was originally to start in 2025, but  in October 2020, the NCDOT Board revised the 2020-2029 STIP "To Assist in the Balancing of Funds" and moved Right-of-Way purchases from FY 2025 to 2028 and construction, with estimated cost of $53.7 million, from 2029 to 'Post Years' meaning the project is no longer funded in the current STIP.
For US 64 in Rocky Mount area there were several funded pavement and bridge rehabilitation projects for US 64 that were planned for this segment, I-6046 from I-95 to SR 1225 (Kingsboro Road), and I-6041 from SR 1225 to NC 33, both were to start in 2020. They were later were to start in FY 2022, but then delayed to 2025 by STIP modifications in October 2020, along with Projects 6041A that will rehabilitate the bridges over US 64 in the area. For US 64 in Tarboro area a funded pavement rehabilitation project, I-6041, from NC 33 to the Martin County line and was to start in 2022, now delayed by the October 2020 STIP modifications to 2025. For the US 17 portion, work on the Edenton Bypass to southern end of Elizabeth City Bypass, including an upgrade of the Harvey Point Road SR 11336 (R-5869A) and New Hope Road/SR 1300 intersections to interchanges was delayed in the  October 2020 STIP revisions for 1 year from 2028 to 2029. There was also a pavement rehabilitation project planned along 5.8 miles of US 17 in Perquimans County (I-6030) which was to start in 2022, but has been delayed to 2025. Work on the US 17 Elizabeth City Bypass, a pavement rehabilitation project (I-6029) to improve 9.9 miles of US 17 in Pasquotank County from the Perquimans County line to the northern end of the Bypass was let on October 15, 2019 and work supposedly was started on March 31, 2020, but there have been not entries further in the project's Construction Progress Report page as of today.



There's good news and bad news to report on Future I-587. The good news is that a contract for pavement rehabilitation/shoulder widening was allowed to continue by NCDOT in Pitt and Greene Counties. As of November 30,  work is 91.6% complete, despite that the completion date is still listed as March 14, 2022. Since Wilson County's portion of US 264 is already interstate standard, NCDOT could conceivably sign the route from I-95 eastward when the contract is complete. The bad news is that they have shown no impetus to do so. 



The major news regarding I-285 in 2020 was that it officially received new overhead signage that included its interstate shield. Here's one of the new signs at the split with (soon to be former) Business 85 courtesy of Strider:




The major news was the opening of the latest section of the Fayetteville Outer Loop from Cliffdale Road to US 401 on August 19, 2020. Here is a photo from the newly opened roadway courtesy of David Johnson:

Currently, in December 2020, almost 24 miles are open to traffic. The only active construction project is building of the Loop from Camden Road to I-95, which as of 11/20/20 is 52.3% complete. The official completion date is July 2022. Here's a photo of construction at the future I-95 interchange by David Johnson:


The remaining project, delayed due to COVID-19 budget issues is now to be let in 2022. 



Construction continued on the last remaining segment of the Greensboro Urban Loop from Lawndale Avenue to US 29 where construction started in late 2018. Part of this section, from Lawndale Drive to North Elm Street was opened on December 23. Here's a photo at the new end of I-840 East by Strider:



The entire project from Lawndale Driver to US 29 is, as of December 15, 63.2% complete. The current official completion date is July 2023, but press reports say it could be completed by late 2022 or early 2023. Nothing new to report about the I-785 portion of the Greensboro Loop.



Work was nearing completion on the East End Connector project at the close of the year. As of December 22, 2020, the project was over 9/10 (93.4%) complete. When the road will actually open is still a guess. A NCDOT press release of June 8 regarding closure of US 70 lanes to install girders for the future I-885 South bridge over NC 98 indicated the project should be completed by the end of the year. While work on the new US 70 East lanes between NC 98 and the Connector was completed in October there has been no announcement of an opening. The Construction progress page has a revised completion date of Feb. 22, 2021. While we wait, here's a photo of the new US 70 East (Future I-885 South lanes) courtesy of David Johnson from October:


A lack of an official opening, nor news of whether the I-885 designation has been officially approved by the FHWA or AASHTO has not prevented those shields from going up, even on the Durham Freeway, courtesy of Charles M. Kunz:


Hopefully, a sign (sorry) that the Connector will be open soon.

I would like to thank all those who contributed information and, especially photos, to post on my site this year, this includes Andrew B. Futrell, Tracy Hamm, David Johnson, Charles M. Kunz, Adam Prince, and Strider. Like many, I thought I might be taking a road trip or two during 2020, especially to North Carolina. I still hope to in 2021, the benefit being several road projects will be complete that wouldn't have been if I had gone this year.

As always, feel free to visit my I-73/I-74 in NC and NC Future Interstates page for the latest information.

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