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Columbus Day I-74 Road Trip Discoveries

I took a trip back to the completely open I-74/US 74 freeway to check out the westbound side, which was closed before, and to see what they had done to solve the exit number problem.

I approached the new freeway via I-95. The new Exit 13 signs start out 2 miles in advance.
They have completely demolished the former US 74 (Exit 14) ramps as you can see just before the ramps for the new exit begin. The closeness of the 2 ramps shows why they could not keep the old ramp in service...
The ramps lead to, depending on your point of view, some of the most unique or most confusing BGSs ever to appear on an interstate. Here are photos from both north and south off ramps...
These are taken from the C/D ramps heading southbound on I-95, the only destination I-74 currently goes to is Laurinburg.

I took the eastbound ramp to see how close to completion the freeway was east of I-95.

Coming back, I did a quick 180 to show the signs from the C/D ramps going northbound for those who may be coming to investigate from points south.

This is from the on ramp to Alternate US 74. As you can see there still doing work there, though all the signs are up. Again, these signs may be confusing to some. They have not finished putting the final coat of pavement on the last 2 miles of the freeway and there are no I-74 signs or mileposts past the Alternate 74 exit. Here's a closeup of signs going further along Alternate 74...
For those wondering what the control cities at the various exits east of I-95 are, this should satisfy your curiosity...
Laurinburg is used in place of Rockingham at on ramps closer to that city.

I took the following photos to show how the interchange at NC 710 had changed, formerly the end of the freeway....
This is the NC 710 exit westbound. First, you'll notice the old exit numbers are used. They have started the process of removing the original mileposts that are wrong between what is now Exit 203 (Dew Rd) and is still Exit 220 (Alt/Bus US 74) to the west, but the none of the exit numbers on the old stretch have been changed to back the new. This will probably be Exit 199.

The previous version of the photo you may have seen had the east 74/74 signs covered up. This ramp design is unique in that the entrance is to the left due to the existing road the van is parked on to the right.

I continued on to Laurinburg to see if they had switched out the previous 55 mph speed limit signs. Not only is the speed now 70 for all of the new freeway, the 70 mph limit continues all along the Maxton Bypass until the Scotland County line where it is reduced to 60 mph. The 70 mph stretch is still not up to Interstate standards, as this photo will attest...
Exit numbers have not changed along the Laurinburg Bypass, but they have been covered over for what was Exit 207 (Business US 74) and Exit 209, since these match numbers further east, they also need to cover Exit 210 and Exit 212, since these will be repeats as well. Here's one of the exit signs along the Bypass...
This exit number will be changed to something around 186. For a complete list of current numbers and probable future ones, see my I-74 Exit List.

Lastly, here's a photo of the only triplex eastbound on ramp sign displays in Laurinburg...
Does adding US 501 to the mix make it more or less confusing?

Additional I-73/74 Notes: I returned up US 220 and the I-73/74 corridor. A stretch of the substandard I-73/74 highway north of Candor is signed as a work zone with signs every 1/2 mile warning of 'Low/Soft Shoulder" on both sides of the northbound roadway. The only thing I can think this can be is the widening of the shoulders to Interstate standards. However, according to the latest state TIP this project is supposed to be a couple of years off. Did they get money to do it early, or is NCDOT going overboard in warning of future construction?

Speaking of construction, progress is proceeding on the 2 Visitor's Centers/ Rest Areas near the Randolph/Montgomery county line. The freeway is only 1 lane in each direction around the construction zone. The future northbound rest area can be seen in the distance in the photo below...
Some of the photos above and others will be featured in updated I-74 Segment 15 and Segment 16 pages in the near future.

Comments

Anonymous said…
very nice .. descriptions and pictures too. It will be nice when it is all done. It will be still a few more years.


Dino
Anonymous said…
I don't get how some freeways are classified as Interstates when they have grass shoulders, while others with substandard paved shoulders cannot be posted as an Interstate.
because interstates classify as a highway where it intersects other states (Example: Interstate 40). Sure some roads are classified as interstates when they are only 9 miles long that circles a city, they should have called them SPURS.

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