Time again for another annual review of the last year's progress constructing North Carolina's new and future interstate routes. As before, I'll review the progress of building I-73 and I-74 in North Carolina and then discuss what happened with the state's other evolving or future interstate routes.
I-73 and I-74 in NC
This was rather a quiet year for I-73 news-wise with only work proceeding, though apparently slowly, on the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass. At the end of the year the project was, interestingly, 73% complete, a relatively small increase from the 60% reported finished at the end of 2022 (although since these are measures of total moneys spent, the small increase may have to do with inflation in the cost of construction materials). The completion date for the entire project was delayed again to September 2025. There was, however, visible progress at the southern end of the project at US 74. First, the US 74 West roadway was put in its new alignment, on a future exit ramp off of I-73/I-74, during the summer.
|US 74 West traffic leaving future I-73 North/I-74 West, photo by David Gallo
|Signage at the NC 66 exit on NC 74 West, screen grab from Tar Heel Dashcam video
Traffic westbound is temporarily routed to the future US 52 South/To NC 66 exit ramp, here passing the future ramp to I-274 West:
Traffic on US 52 South is currently switched over to the future I-74 West/US 52 North lanes at the NC 65 interchange and Beltway traffic splits from US 52 before the NC 65 bridge:
Work was 92.5% complete in early December and the plan is to completely finish the interchange in the first half of 2024. Work also continued at the southern end of the Beltway project. Work between the current end at US 421/Salem Parkway and I-40 continues and is almost 43% complete as of December. The finishing date has been moved from March to April 2027 and now matches that of the I-40 to I-74 project, work on that is 33% complete. The most conspicuous parts so far of the I-40 interchange project are the flyover ramps. Work started in the fall to add the roadway structures to the already placed support piers.
I-74 related work is also continuing at the opposite end of the state. In Columbus County work was completed on the new Boardman interchange that replaced the intersection with Old Boardman Road. Though the project is still officially not complete, the ramps were opened in both directions in September.
Meanwhile. work started in March across the Lumber River to construct a new interchange to replace the current intersections with NC 130 and NC 72. By the end of the year the work zone had been cleared and grading at the future interchange site had begun along with lane closures between NC 130 and NC 72.
Landscaping for future bridge at current intersection with Chauncey Town Road on US 74/76 West, photo by David Gallo
|Bridge supports at the Old Lake Road intersection, photo by David Gallo
The final 2024-2033 STIP released in June restored funding for the upgrade of US 74 to interstate standards between the Rockingham and Laurinburg Bypasses, though work is not scheduled to start until 2031 and does not include upgrades to the Laurinburg Bypass itself. The STIP however maintained the unfunded status of the project to upgrade US 74 to interstate standards between NC 41 near Lumberton and US 76 near Whiteville. It also had no project listed to upgrade US 52 between Winston-Salem and Mount Airy. It is unknown whether a Beltway construction related project to renumber the exits along US 52 to those based on I-74 mileage will take place after the US 52 interchange project is completed this year or when I-74 is signed along the Beltway when the Eastern Section is completed.
Other NC New and Future Interstates
|One of the many temporary VMS exit signs greeting drivers upon the opening of the Greensboro Urban Loop, photo by Strider
For many months there was not any addition of I-840 signs to the section between US 29 and I-40/85, and only one sign indicated the creation of the second 3 digit interstate concurrency in the state, and only the third nationally.
It was not until the summer before the other overhead signs were put up on the new section of the Loop and I-840 signage appeared all the way along the northern half of the Loop.
There is not much to report about the other new 2 digit interstate for 2023. There was no change from the Draft to Final 2024-2033 STIP regarding the upgrade of US 64/264 between Wendell and Zebulon. The June 2023 document still listed funding for preliminary engineering work only, meaning any project would not start currently until at least 2034. There are a number of pavement rehabilitation projects ongoing or planned. The contract in Edgecombe County between Old Carriage Road and Kingsboro Road included upgrading the shoulders for about 3 miles at the eastern end to interstate standards, but not for the remaining roadway west of there.
Work started on another project to the east, from Kingsboro Road to NC 33, in the summer, but there has been no indication that shoulders will be widened as part of this contract.
Work continued on completing the I-295/Fayetteville Outer Loop during 2023, though slowly. The project between US 401 and Camden Road was reported to be 34.3% complete in December, the estimated completion date is January 2027. Meanwhile the section between Camden Road and I-95, where a short 2-mile section between Black Bridge Road and Parkton Road opened in the fall of 2022 is 82.5% complete and due to be finished by July 2025. Work has been continuing on building the future ramps between I-295 and I-95.
The project widening I-95 beyond the northern I-295 interchange to I-40 includes building a new separate ramp directly to I-295 on I-95 North. The ramp has not opened yet to my knowledge, though signs were updated indicating that there were to be two ramps.
|The new 1 Mile advance sign with I-587 shield on I-95 North, Google Maps Street View
|New 1 Mile advance sign with West US 264 added to US 13/Alt. 264 on Greenville Southeast Bypass, Google Maps Street View
Work continued in 2023 on the upgrade of the Reedy Fork Parkway interchange on US 29 just north of the Greensboro Loop. The project was nearly 60% complete in mid-December and is planned to be finished in the fall of 2024. Work still had not been completed though on new bridges across US 29 as of this fall.
The Final 2024-2033 STIP confirmed that one of the two projects to upgrade US 29 to interstate standards between Reedy Fork Parkway and NC 150 is due to start in 2031 at a cost of $186 million, the contract for the remaining 4 miles was listed only for preliminary engineering purposes with no starting date.
The Final 2024-2033 STIP released in June 2023 did not change the status of the future projects to extend I-795 from Goldsboro to I-40. Only 2 of the 5 projects are funded. Upgrading US 117 to interstate standards from Country Club Road to South Landfill Road is planned to start in 2028, while the section between South Landfill and Genoa Road is to start in 2029. The remainder, including a new bypass of Goldsboro, currently cannot start before 2034.
Major news for this interstate was actually on the section currently signed as NC 140. The Military Cutoff Road extension project was finished adding a new exit to the northern section of the Wilmington Bypass.
The interchange will also be eventually for the southern end of the Hampstead Bypass, when the northern section, currently under construction, is completed, NC 417 will be temporarily routed along NC 140, US 17 and NC 210 to reach the opened part of the Bypass. Speculation is that NCDOT has not signed I-140 east of I-40 because they eventually want to route it up the Bypass to beyond Hampstead. Time will tell.
Work continued in 2023 on building new toll express lanes along the southern section of the Charlotte Outerbelt. Work is officially to be completed by the end of 2024 and was 82.1% complete as of the end of November.
Work continued along parts of US 421 in Guilford and Randolph Counties to improve the roadway for its eventual designation as an interstate route. There has been no news though regarding a final decision as to where the southern end of the future interstate will be (either Dunn or Fayetteville) nor has any additional money been allocated for future upgrade projects. The major project underway during 2023 was at the "Guilford/Randolph Megasite" where a new interchange to serve a Toyota battery manufacturing plant is being built. The plant is due to open in 2025. During 2023 work to build the ramps and the bridge over US 421 progressed significantly. The project as of December 15 was 65% done and is set to be complete by August 2024.
One-lane US 421 South near future ramp to serve the Guilford Randolph Megasite, Google Maps Street View
What's expected in 2024
The major highway news for the year will be for a non-interstate, the extension of Toll NC 540 to I-40 from the NC 55 Bypass is supposed to open in the spring. Work on contracts let in 2023 to complete the Outer Loop to I-87/US 64/US 264 should also start. The planned completion of the Havelock Bypass and the upgrades to US 70 in Johnston County will hopefully come with the signing of I-42 near Clayton and Goldsboro and will add new miles to the completed part of the future I-42 corridor. If the completion of the Reedy Fork interchange occurs on schedule, a couple miles will be ready for the signing of I-785 along US 29.
I would like to thank again all the contributors of news and images to my I-73/I-74 and NC Future Interstates sites; in particular: David Gallo, Tracy Hamm, Mark David Moore, Adam Prince, and Strider. The sites could not keep going without their help.