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Interstate 140 North Carolina

 

Interstate 140 doubles along a portion of the U.S. 17 'Outer Loop Freeway' around the Wilmington metropolitan area. The designation only applies to the U.S. 17 freeway between U.S. 421 and Interstate 40 north of Wilmington and south of Castle Hayne. Other portions of the freeway, both planned and already open, are planned as part of the U.S. 17 mainline. According to the November 12, 2004, North Carolina's Strategic Highway Corridors map, the U.S. 17 freeway is also planned for a southeastern extension from the southern terminus at Bishop east to U.S. 421 south of Wilmington.

Routing

Interstate 140 in North Carolina is a 6.80-mile segment of the Northern Outer Loop freeway bypass of Wilmington from U.S. 17-421 east to Interstate 40 over the N.E. Cape Fear River. The remaining U.S. 17 freeway east of Interstate 40 to Scotts Hill is not currently part of Interstate 140. Preliminarily approved as an Interstate highway by the Federal Highway Administration on September 18, 2002, approved by AASHTO on May 30, 2003, and granted final approval by FHWA on December 15, 2008, Interstate 140 provides part of the bypass route for U.S. 17 around Wilmington between U.S. 421 west of the Cape Fear River to Interstate 40 south of Castle Hayne. Interstate 140 was an approved strategic corridor on North Carolina's Strategic Highway Corridors map on November 12, 2004.

Status

The first section of Interstate 140 opened to traffic on August 22, 2005, north of Wilmington. The three-mile freeway links Interstate 40 with North Carolina 133 (Castle Haynes Road) near Wrightsboro. Construction of the highway across the Cape Fear River to U.S. 421 continued with a late 2005 expected opening1. However that segment did not open until June 30, 2006.3 The section of freeway between Interstate 40 and U.S. 17 at Scotts Hill was also opened on June 30, 20062,3

Under construction since 2011, the Leland stretch of the Wilmington Bypass was scheduled to open in September 2013 but delayed. The final two sections, budgeted at nearly $246 million, link the two portions of I-140 between Leland and U.S. 421 in New Hanover County.4 A $125-million contract was let in September 2013 on the portion between Cedar Hill Road in Navassa, and U.S. 421 including a 65-foot high bridge over the Cape Fear River. A contract for work between U.S. 74 & 76, west of Leland, and Navassa was awarded by spring 2014 as well. Completion of all work is scheduled for 2017.5 The southern portion of the Wilmington Bypass opened to traffic between U.S. 17 and U.S. 74 & 76 on October 16, 2014.6 It is signed as North Carolina state route 140.

History

The state of North Carolina proposed designating Interstate 140 previously. The prior attempt was to convert a section of U.S. 1 south of Raleigh into Interstate 140. On April 16, 1999, AASHTO's Route Numbering Subcommittee disapproved the establishment of Interstate 140 from Interstate 40 at Raleigh and U.S. 421 at Sanford via U.S. 1 because significant portions of the route did not meet current Interstate standards.

AASHTO approved Interstate 140 at Wilmington on May 30, 2003, and the Federal Highway Administration concurred that the route met Interstate standards in a letter dated December 15, 2008. Signage was placed on completed sections of the bypass route in August 2005. At this time, it does not appear that North Carolina will resubmit the U.S. 1 freeway as an Interstate Highway.

Highway Guides

Interstate 140 Construction
The current western terminus of Interstate 140 construction at U.S. 421. Photograph looks to the north from U.S. 421 near Wilmington. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
A second view of the Interstate 140/U.S. 421 interchange construction at the current western terminus. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
Eastward view of Interstate 140 construction showing bridge work for the freeway as it crosses the N.E. Cape Fear River north of Wilmington. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
North Carolina 133 meets Interstate 140 with an interchange under construction near the town of Castle Hayne. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
New North Carolina 132 crossing over Interstate 40 as seen from the south. North Carolina 132 parallels Interstate 40 after the freeway begins, traveling northward to U.S. 421 near Castle Hayne. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
A northward view of the Interstate 140 crossing over the Interstate 40 mainline north of Wilmington. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
Interstate 40 with the Interstate 140 crossing in the distance from a nearby overpass to the north. Photo taken by Rob Murphy (06/03).
Western Terminus - U.S. 421 and Independence Boulevard Extension - Wilmington, North Carolina
Perspective from Interstate 140 west & U.S. 17 south
Preparing to cross the Cape Fear River on Interstate 140 west & U.S. 17 south, two miles east of the current freeway end at junction U.S. 421 (Independence Boulevard Extension). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
A high-level bridge carries the freeway over the Cape Fear River in the industrial areas north of Wilmington. U.S. 421 follows Independence Boulevard Extension northward from U.S. 17 Business & 76 near Belville. U.S. 17 saw relocation from its in-city routing of Wilmington along U.S. 421 north to Interstate 140 and its bypass alignment to the north. U.S. 17 & 421 overlap for two miles between the freeway end and U.S. 17 Business for now, but upon completion of the freeway to Bishop (junction North Carolina 87), U.S. 17 will relocate onto it, leaving the original alignment for an extended U.S. 17 Business. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
An auxiliary sign bridge includes the points of interest of U.S. 17 & 421 in the Wilmington area including the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, the North Carolina Aquarium, and Fort Fisher. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
All traffic departs Interstate 140 west & U.S. 17 south at the west end of the Cape Fear bridge for U.S. 421. U.S. 421 enters the area from Wards Corner to the north. The north-south highway joins Wilmington with Clinton to the north on a parallel alignment to Interstate 40. The south end of U.S. 421 exists at Carolina Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Barricades prevent motorists from continuing off the freeway stub of Interstate 140's western terminus. It appears that Interstate 140 will end here permanently, leaving just U.S. 17 to continue the freeway west to Bishop. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
End Interstate 140 marker posted on the loop ramp to U.S. 421 (Independence Boulevard Extension). U.S. 17 south joins U.S. 421 south for two miles to its original alignment with U.S. 76. U.S. 74 joins the tandem from its own Cape Fear Crossing north of downtown Wilmington. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Sign bridge posted at the end of the Interstate 140 off-ramp to U.S. 421 directs traffic onto northbound for Clinton and southbound for Wilmington, Carolina Beach, and Myrtle Beach. U.S. 17 travels an older freeway west from U.S. 421 to its split with U.S. 74 & 76 at Leland. From there U.S. 17 continues west on a four-lane divided highway 32 miles to the Brunswick County town of Shallotte. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Perspective from U.S. 421 south
U.S. 421 (Independence Boulevard Extension) southbound at the eastbound beginning of Interstate 140 and its merge with U.S. 17 south. Interstate 140 & U.S. 17 span the Cape Fear River on a high-level bridge between Independence Boulevard Extension and junction North Carolina 133 (Castle Hayne Road). U.S. 17 joins the Wilmington metropolitan area with Jacksonville and New Bern in the northeast. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Perspective from Interstate 140 east & U.S. 17 north
A begin shield for Interstate 140 resides on the on-ramp from U.S. 421 at the beginning of the Cape Fear crossing (Dan Cameron Bridge). U.S. 17 follows all of the 12-mile freeway between U.S. 421 and U.S. 17 Business near Scotts Hill. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 40 - Wilmington, North Carolina
Perspective from Interstate 140 east & U.S. 17 north
Interstate 140 & U.S. 17 depart the folded-diamond interchange with North Carolina 133 (Castle Hayne Road) and draw to within two miles of the directional-cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 40. Interstate 40 travels north-south between Wilmington and the Raleigh-Durham area. The freeway ends two miles south of Interstate 140 at its merge with U.S. 117 & North Carolina 132. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Benson is often referred to as the control city of Interstates 40 and 95 because the two cross paths there. However Interstate 40's end features the more appropriate city of Raleigh. Pictured here is the one-mile guide sign for Interstate 40 with Benson on it. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Drivers bound for Interstate 40 depart Interstate 140 east & U.S. 17 north in unison at the unnumbered off-ramp. Interstate 140 ends at Interstate 40 with the U.S. 17 freeway traveling solo another six miles to Scotts Hill at the Pender County line. The pull-through overhead at the ramp departure references Interstate 140 and not U.S. 17, but the Interstate 140 end sign resides at the Interstate 40 mainline under crossing. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
The Interstate 40 off-ramp partitions into its respective movements to eastbound for Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach for the connection with U.S. 74 & 76. Raleigh appears on the westbound panel for Interstate 40; the capital city lies 115 miles to the north. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Perspective from U.S. 17 south
U.S. 17 southbound on the approach to junction Interstate 40 north of Wilmington. There are no interchanges between the freeway beginning near Scotts Hill and the transition into Interstate 140. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
One mile out from the directional-cloverleaf interchange between Interstate 40, 140, and U.S. 17. Interstate 40 ends 3.75 miles to the south at the merge with U.S. 117 and North Carolina 132. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Interstate 140 begins at the U.S. 17 interchange with Interstate 40. A collector/distributor roadway facilitates the movements to both Interstate 40 east and west at the junction. Shallotte joins Myrtle Beach as the control cities for the continuation of U.S. 17 south from Interstate 140's west end. Shallotte lies in Brunswick County. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Drivers bound for Interstate 40 west to Benson (junction Interstate 95), Raleigh, and Durham depart Interstate 140 west & U.S. 17 south. Interstate 40 next meets Holly Shelter Road two miles to the north at Exit 414. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
A companion begin Interstate 140 shield resides across the freeway from the eastbound end sign at the Interstate 40 freeway mainline under crossing. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
A loop ramp carries motorists onto Interstate 40 eastbound for its final approach into the city of Wilmington. Interstate 40 merges onto U.S. 117 & North Carolina 132 (College Road) southbound ahead of junction U.S. 74 (Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) and the interchange with U.S. 17 Business & 74 (Market Street). Old U.S. 17 through Wilmington became a business loop upon completion of the Interstate 140 crossing of the Cape Fear River and freeway extension east to Scotts Hill. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Perspective from Interstate 40 east
Traveling south into the Wilmington metropolitan area along Interstate 40 east. Exits 416A/B join the freeway with Interstate 140 west and U.S. 17 south of the Sibury Road overpass. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
A small sign is the only indication of Interstate 40's own terminus five miles ahead at the merge (Exit 420) with U.S. 117 & North Carolina 132 (College Road). The shield assembly lies ahead of the Exit 416 directional-cloverleaf interchange. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Interstate 140 in conjunction with the U.S. 17 freeway bypass of Wilmington serves movements to the coastal communities of Topsail Beach and Myrtle Beach in addition to the inland cities of Jacksonville and New Bern. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
A collector/distributor roadway serves the movements of Exits 416A/B to Interstate 140 west & U.S. 17 south to Leland and Shallotte and U.S. 17 north to Scotts Hill and Topsail Island. U.S. 17 continues west from Interstate 140 to Shallotte and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and northeast to JAcksonville and New Bern. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Interstate 140 only heads west from Interstate 40 to the junction with U.S. 421 (Independence Boulevard Extension) just west of the Cape Fear River. U.S. 17 and 421 travel south from there to Belville. U.S. 17 north bee lines for its original alignment to Scotts Hill near the Pender County line. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Perspective from Interstate 40 west
Leaving the Wilmington metropolitan area on Interstate 40 west, the two-mile guide sign features the long-distance control cities of Jacksonville for U.S. 17 north and Myrtle Beach for U.S. 17 south. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
One mile south of the directional-cloverleaf interchange (Exits 416A/B) with Interstate 140 west and U.S. 17 on Interstate 40 west. Interstate 140 & U.S. 17 travel six miles west to junction U.S. 421 (Independence Boulevard Extension). U.S. 17 travels six miles east to its merge with U.S. 17 Business near Scotts Hill. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).
Exit 416B departs Interstate 40 westbound for the U.S. 17 freeway east to Scotts Hill and Jacksonville. Jacksonville lies 42 miles northeastward at the junction with U.S. 258. Interstate 140 & U.S. 17 meanwhile travel three miles west to junction North Carolina 133 (old U.S. 117) south of Castle Hayne. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman / Justin Cozart (11/11/06).

Sources:

  1. "First leg of bypass set to open." The Wilmington Star, August 19, 2005.
  2. "GOV. EASLEY OPENS FIRST STRETCH OF I-140 WILMINGTON BYPASS." NC Office of the Governor News Release, August 22, 2005.
  3. "I-140 Wilmington Outer Loop," Robert Malme.
  4. "Opening delayed for Leland stretch of Wilmington Bypass." Port City Daily (Wilmington, NC), August 28, 2013.
  5. "Leland officials pleased with I-140 plans." StarNews (Wilmington, NC), September 29, 2013.
  6. "Southern section of Wilmington bypass to open." StarNews (Wilmington, NC), October 15, 2014.

Page Updated on October 20, 2014.

 
Mileage

State North Carolina
Mileage 6
Cities Wilmington
Junctions Future Interstate 20, Interstate 40
Source: Personal Observation
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