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Interstate 74 North Carolina

 

Routing

As of June 2013, Interstate 74 exists in three sections in North Carolina: (1) near Mount Airy, (2) from Interstate 40 at Winston-Salem south to Ellerbe, a portion of which is concurrent with Interstate 73, and (3) between Laurinburg and Lumberton. Additional miles are planned in the coming years, even though it may be decades before North Carolina's Interstate 74 connects with Interstate 74 in the Midwest.

Interstate 74 was first tagged for extension into West Virginia and the Carolinas with the passage of the National Highway Designation Act of 1995. While the original Interstate 74 still ends in Cincinnati, it is unlikely that the freeway will continue east toward Huntington, West Virginia, any time soon. At the same time, Interstate 74 is not signed in either Virginia or South Carolina either.

The first section of Interstate 74 in North Carolina follows the 13-mile Mount Airy bypass east from Interstate 77 near the Virginia state line. South of Toast and Mount Airy, this segment of Interstate 74 through Surry County opened initially between I-77 and U.S. 601 on July 14, 19981 and from U.S. 601 to U.S. 52 on July 1, 1999. Construction on the $78.8-million roadway took eight years.2 Reassurance markers for I-74 were placed along the freeway (signed originally as North Carolina 752) by 2001. Cosigning of Interstates 74 & 77 along their 4.6-mile overlap occurred in April 2001.

Future Interstate 74 Corridor signage remains in place on U.S. 52 between the east end of the Mount Airy section through to northern reaches of Winston-Salem. This section of freeway will receive Interstate 74 shields upon upgrading to full Interstate standards. The proposed Winston-Salem Beltway, scheduled for initial construction between Business Loop I-40 and Reidsville Road (U.S. 158) starting in 2014,3 will carry Interstate 74 around the city to U.S. 311 near Union Cross.

Southeast from Winston-Salem, Interstate 74 overlays the U.S. 311 freeway from near Union Cross to High Point, Archdale, New Market and Randleman. 12.2-miles of U.S. 311 freeway from southeast Forsyth County through to the Guilford County line opened on March 6, 1984.4 The High Point Bypass extended that route southward as a limited access highway 3.7 miles to Eastchester Drive (NC. 68) on September 18, 19975 and from there to Business Loop I-85 & U.S. 29-70 on November 20, 2004.6 This stretch of highway was signed as Interstate 74 when the Archdale bypass opened on November 22, 2010 after three years of construction.7

The most recent section of Interstate 74, opened on June 7, 2013 at a cost of $99.7-million, joining the freeway end at Glenola with Interstate 73 at Randleman.8 This completes Interstate 74 between Forsyth County and Ellerbe in southern North Carolina, which doubles as U.S. 220 south from Randleman.

U.S. 220 was redesignated as Interstates 73 & 74 in the mid-1990s from U.S. 64 at Asheboro southward to Candor. The 12.6-mile stretch from Ulah through Seagrove opened on August 27, 1996 at a cost of $47.5-million.9 The freeway north from U.S. 64 at Asheboro to Randleman was signed as Future Interstates 73 & 74 until the June 2013 opening of the stretch northwest to High Point.

17 miles of new freeway for U.S. 220 opened south from Candor to Ellerbe on January 7, 2008.10 This portion, while built to Interstate standards, was signed as a Future route until March 2013.3 Future corridor signs accompany the non-freeway portion of U.S. 220 southward from Ellerbe to Rockingham. Once at Rockingham, Interstate 74 turns eastward and splits with Interstate 73, taking the U.S. 74 freeway bypass of Rockingham and Hamlet. This freeway is signed with Future banners.

A portion of U.S. 74 remains an at-grade highway between the Hamlet bypass and the Laurinburg Bypass. West of Laurinburg, Interstate 74 resumes along its third segment, leading 39 miles east from Laurinburg to Maxton and Lumberton. Completed September 26, 2008,10, the freeway transitions into an at-grade highway east of an interchange with North Carolina 41. U.S. 74 angles southeast from there to Chadbourn, where the route combines with U.S. 76 for a bypass of Whiteville.

At Chadbourn near the current intersection of U.S. 74 and U.S. 76, a proposed but unlikely easterly extension of Interstate 20 is slated to tie into Interstate 74. Interstate 20 currently ends in Florence, South Carolina but is envisioned to combine with Interstate 74 between Chadbourn and Bolton via Whiteville en route to a proposed end at Wilmington. The governor of North Carolina introduced the new routing of Interstate 20 and Interstate 74 in his Strategic Transportation Plan for Southeastern North Carolina on May 5, 2003.

East of Bolton, I-20 would continue toward Wilmington while Interstate 74 turns south along North Carolina 211 toward Myrtle Beach. Both the extension of Interstate 20 into Wilmington and the extension of Interstate 74 along North Carolina 211 are part of High Priority Corridor 5.

Following North Carolina 211 south from Bolton to Supply, the corridor of Interstate 74 turns westerly along the path of U.S. 17 to South Carolina and the Carolina Bays Parkway (South Carolina 31). Carolina Bays Parkway, a northeast to southwest route, parallels the Grand Strand area of Myrtle Beach along a 24.5 mile, six-lane, divided highway. The route opened to traffic on December 17, 2002, after three years of construction.11

The South Carolina routing of Interstate 74 follows all of the Carolina Bays Parkway, which doubles as a future Interstate 73 from the South Carolina 22 (Conway Bypass) southwest to its current end at S.C. 544 (Dick Pond Road) near Socastee. Carolina Bays Parkway provides an inland bypass of U.S. 17 and the Grand Strand from South Carolina 9 southwest to S.C. 544. The first leg of the parkway completed was the portion between S.C. 9 and U.S. 501. Costing $232-million, the 20-mile route opened to traffic on December 17, 2002.13 Next, opened on December 15, 2004, was the six-lane freeway extending South Carolina 31 southwest 4.6 miles from U.S. 501 to S.C. 544.14 A 3.8-mile extension of the parkway will take both routes southwest to U.S. 17 at Georgetown. Ground breaking of that portion took place on November 6, 2013. Expected to cost between $225-237 million, the S.C. 31 extension is estimated for completion by spring of 2017.15

Plans for the eastern terminus of Interstate 74 have changed dramatically since 1995, when Interstate 74 was proposed to be extended east. The original ISTEA/NHS legislation indicated that Interstate 73/74 would have continued beyond Georgetown southwest into Charleston, but that was removed (per the TEA-21 law passed in 1998).

History

The first time Interstate 73 and Interstate 74 were submitted to AASHTO for approval was at the Special Committee on Route Numbering meeting of April 19, 1996. At that meeting, North Carolina submitted three requests under Section 332(a)(2) of the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995. None of the three requests were approved at that particular meeting:

  1. Establish Interstate 73 - "Beginning at the intersection of U.S. Route 220 at the Virginia State Line, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of State Route 68 northwest of Greensboro, then southerly over U.S. Route 68 (sic) to the intersection of Interstate Route 40 in Kernersville, then southeasterly over I-40 to the intersection of U.S. Route 220 in Greensboro, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of U.S. Route 1 in Rockingham, then southwesterly over U.S. Route 1 to the South Carolina State Line." The action to establish this route was continued at the April 1996 meeting, and it was subsequently amended in future iterations by North Carolina and adjacent states.
  2. Establish Interstate 74 - "Beginning at the intersection of Interstate Route 77 at the Virginia State Line, then southerly over I-77 to the intersection of U.S. 52 south of Mount Airy, then southeasterly over U.S. Route 52 to the intersection of U.S. Route 311 in Winston-Salem, then easterly and southeasterly over U.S. Route 3111 to the intersection with u.S. Route 220 in Randleman, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of U.S. Route 74 in Rockingham then southeasterly over U.S. Route 74 to the intersection of U.S. Route 76 in Whitehall, then westerly over U.S. Route 76 to the South Carolina State Line." The action to establish this route was continued at the April 1996 meeting, and it was subsequently amended in future iterations by North Carolina and adjacent states.
  3. Establish Temporary Interstate 74 - a request was made to establish a temporary designation along U.S. 52 from Interstate 40 north 11.22 miles to the intersection with North Carolina 1840. This request was disapproved in favor of "To Interstate 74."

Once the proposals for Interstate 73 and Interstate 74 were resubmitted in a joint proposal by Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, AASHTO approved them as Interstate Highways via a mail ballot completed on July 25, 1996. The results of this ballot were approved as part of the meeting of October 5, 1996. The routes were modified into the following descriptions:

  1. Establish Interstate 73 - "Beginning at the intersection of Interstate Route 81 and Interstate Route 581 north of Roanoke, Virginia, then southeasterly over I-581 to the intersection of U.S. Route 220 at the Virginia State Line, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of State Route 68 northwest of Greensboro, then southerly over U.S. Route 68 (sic) to the intersection of Interstate Route 40 north of High Point, then southeasterly over I-40 to the intersection of U.S. Route 220 in Greensboro, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of U.S. Route 1 in Rockingham, then southwesterly over U.S. Route 1 to the intersection of State Route 9 near Cheraw, South Carolina, then southerly over S.R. 9/38 to the intersection of U.S. Route 501 near Marion, then southerly over U.S. Rout(e) 501 (sic) to the intersection of U.S. Route 701 in Conway, then southwesterly over U.S. Route 701 to the intersection of U.S. Route 17 in Georgetown, then southerly over U.S. Route 17 to the terminal interchange of Interstate Route 26 in Charleston, South Carolina." The southern terminus of this route, along with certain other segments, would be modified in the ensuing years.
  2. Establish Interstate 74 - "Beginning at the intersection of Interstate Route 81 and Interstate Route 77 east of Wytheville, Virginia, then southerly over I-77 to the intersection of U.S. Route 52 south of Mount Airy, then southeasterly over U.S. Route 52 to the intersection of U.S. Route 311 in Winston-Salem, then easterly and southeasterly over U.S. Route 3111 to the intersection with U.S. Route 220 in Randleman, then southerly over U.S. Route 220 to the intersection of U.S. Route 74 in Rockingham then southeasterly over U.S. Route 74 to the intersection of a new facility to be constructed west of Whiteville, then southerly over the new facility to the intersection of U.S. Route 17 southwest of Wilmington, then southwesterly over U.S. Route 17 to the intersection of proposed Interstate Route 73 at a point yet to be determined in near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina."

High Priority Corridor

North Carolina's two sections of Interstate 74 are part of High Priority Corridor 5: I-73/74 North-South Corridor. Its designation in North Carolina is written into law.

Highway Guides

Mt. Airy Segment - Western Terminus - Virginia-North Carolina State Line - near Pine Ridge, North Carolina
Perspective from Interstate 74 west and Interstate 77 north
These Interstate 74-77 reassurance shields are posted in the median of Interstate 77 north as the freeway approaches the Virginia state line. This is the last Interstate 74 shield headed westbound until Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
Perspective from Interstate 74 east and Interstate 77 south
Interstate 74 appears along side Interstate 77 south just beyond the Virginia state line. Virginia has no plans presently to extend the I-74 signing northward at this time. Photo taken by Mike Muiznieks (12/01).
After the first set of shields, Interstate 74-77 prepares to split. The left lanes continue southeast on Interstate 74 to Mount Airy, while the right lanes continue south on Interstate 77 to Charlotte. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (08/07/05).
This is the second in a series of signs that announce the pending split between Interstate 74 and Interstate 77. Interstate 74 currently extends only to Mount Airy, but upgrades are underway to convert the U.S. 52 freeway into Interstate 74 through to the future Winston-Salem Beltway. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (08/07/05).
Interstates 74 east and 77 south split. This section of Interstate 74 was signed solely as North Carolina 752 until 2001. Photo taken by Jeff Morrison (08/07/05).
Mt. Airy Segment - Eastern Terminus - U.S. 52 - Mount Airy, North Carolina
Perspective from Interstate 74 east
Overhead signs for the Interstate 74 transition into U.S. 52 include an allocation for an eventual extension of the route to Winston-Salem. U.S. 52 ventures northwest to split as a business and bypass through the city of Mount Airy. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
An end shield for Interstate 74 was posted ahead of the trumpet interchange with U.S. 52. U.S. 52 merges with I-74 as a freeway from Holly Springs Road (Exit 141) southeast to Winston-Salem. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
Perspective from U.S. 52 east (after Interstate 74 interchange)
Located just southeast of the U.S. 52/Interstate 74 interchange is this future corridor signage. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
Perspective from U.S. 52 west
This was the first signage for the pending junction with Interstate 74 west on northbound (westbound) U.S. 52 near Mount Airy. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
When U.S. 52 is fully upgraded to Interstate standards between Winston-Salem and Mount Airy, Exit 140 at the Mount Airy Bypass will become the I-74 mainline and U.S. 52 as Exit 17. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
Westbound on U.S. 52 splits with Interstate 74 at this interchange. From here to the state line with Virginia, Interstate 74 is signed. Photo taken by AARoads (10/05/01).
Winston-Salem to Ellerbe - Western Terminus - Interstate 40 & U.S. 311 - Winston-Salem
Interstate 74 was extended westward along the U.S. 311 freeway from High Point to Forsyth County in March 2013. I-74 will turn north on the Winston-Salem Beltway eventually, but more or less ends at the U.S. 311 interchange with Interstate 40 for now.
Historical Perspective of Asheboro Segment - Eastern Terminus - U.S. 220/Alternate U.S. 220 - Candor
Perspective from Interstates 73-74 south
End Interstate 73 and 74 shield assembly that was posted near the former south end of the U.S. 220 freeway, four miles south of Candor. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (08/16/03).
U.S. 220 returned to its former alignment (U.S. 220 Alternate). The Alternate route follows the original U.S. 220 through Candor, Biscoe, Star, Ether, and Seagrove. In the state of North Carolina, the original U.S. route, when replaced by a freeway alignment, is generally signed as Business in built-up areas and Alternate in more rural areas. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (08/16/03).
The four lane freeway temporarily ended until the 2008 opening of the Ellerbe Bypass. U.S. 220 otherwise widened at the town of Ellerbe, 13 miles to the south. Photo taken by Chris Patriarca (08/16/03).
Winston-Salem to Ellerbe - Eastern Terminus - U.S. 220 - south of Ellerbe
Interstates 73 & 74 end at the diamond interchange with U.S. 220 Business south of Ellerbe. U.S. 220 transitions to an at-grade highway southward to Rockingham.
Laurinburg to Lumberton Segment - Western Terminus - U.S. 74 - Laurinburg
Interstate 74 transitions into U.S. 74 at the west end of the Laurinburg bypass.
Laurinburg to Lumberton Segment - Eastern Terminus - North Carolina 41 - Lumberton
Interstate 74 ends at at North Carolina 41, just east of Interstate 95 and south of Lumberton.

Sources

  1. "I-77 Link Means Lost Business, Owners Fear." Winston-Salem Journal, July 11, 1998.
  2. "Ready to Road Test Long-Awaited Connector to I-77 is Expected to Open Today." Winston-Salem Journal, July 1, 1999.
  3. "Road to the future." Winston-Salem Journal, March 4, 2013.
  4. "THE ROAD LESS WANTED - NOT EVERYONE ENJOYED THE VIEW WHEN A KEY HIGHWAY OPENED FROM HIGH POINT TO WINSTON-SALEM 20 YEARS AGO." Greensboro News & Record, February 29, 2004.
  5. "NEW U.S. 311 BYPASS UNVEILED." Greensboro News & Record, September 19, 1997.
  6. THE REAL DEAL ON THE NEW BYPASS." Greensboro News & Record, November 20, 2004.
  7. "I-74/U.S. 311 bypass opens." WMBF News, November 22, 2010.
  8. "Final Section of U.S. 311 Bypass Opens in Randolph County." North Carolina Department of Transportation, press release. June 7, 2013.
  9. "U.S. 220 Widened Near Seagrove." Greensboro News & Record, August 28, 1996.
  10. I-73 Segment 10/I-74 Segment 11 (Bob Malme)
  11. SCDOT - Inside SCDOT - Carolina Bays Parkway http://www.dot.state.sc.us/Projects/CarolinaBays/default.html. SCDOT.
  12. I-74 Segment 16 (Bob Malme)
  13. "The Drive Behind New Highways." Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), December 18, 2002.
  14. "Drivers May Cruise To S.C. 544." Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), December 15, 2004.
  15. "Official: Ground breaking for S.C. 707 widening and S.C. 31 extension to restore faith in the system." Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), November 6, 2013.

Page Updated December 18, 2013.

 
Mileage

State North Carolina
Mileage 143
Cities Mt. Airy, Winston-Salem, High Point, Randleman, Asheboro, Ulah, Candor, Ellerbe, Rockingham, Laurinburg, Lumberton
Junctions Interstate 77, Interstate 85, Interstate 73, Interstate 95
Source: Estimate via Google Maps
 
An Interstate 73-74 Future Corridor sign is posted on southbound U.S. 220 after the Midway Road offramp in Rockingham, North Carolina. Photo taken by Anfy Field (05/30/07).
Right of way acquistions have already taken place for the new 10.5-mile link between Interstates 73 & 74 south of Ellerbe and the west end of the Rockingham Bypass (U.S. 74). New I-73 & 74 will veer southwest from U.S. 220 at Northside Drive to combine with U.S. 74 at its split with U.S. 74 Business.
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