Interstate 40 (I-40) runs 423 miles (681 km) through the state of North Carolina from the Tennessee state line in the west to its eastern terminus in Wilmington. I-40 begins at the Tennessee state line in Haywood County and runs through the state until it reaches its eastern terminus at U.S. Highway 117/North Carolina Highway 132 (US 117/NC 132) in Wilmington. The Interstate runs through the cities of Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh, and ends in Wilmington. The unofficial name for I-40 is the Blue Star Memorial Highway, which is to pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces. The road a various other names along its routing.
I-40 began in 1956 with construction in the Pigeon River Gorge. This section of the highway was the first part of I-40 in the entire nation and was completed in 1968. Construction continued through the 1950s and 1960s. In 1971 the North Carolina State Highway Commission approved a plan to extend I-40 to I-95 near Benson. In 1988 the final section of I-40 between Tennessee and Raleigh opened. The last portion of I-40 from Raleigh to Wilmington opened on June 29, 1990.
I-40 enters North Carolina at the state line near Waterville. The freeway immediately starts winding through the Pigeon River Gorge. I-40 goes through a set of tunnels. When the tunnels opened in 1968 they were the first Interstate tunnels east of Mississippi River. I-40 then goes down a steep grade for the next 16 miles (26 km). Just south of exit 7, I-40 uses another tunnel, for eastbound traffic only, through Hurricane Mountain. The westbound lanes use a rock cut through Hurricane Mountain. A short distance after the tunnel is the North Carolina Welcome Center. Interstate 40 continues toward Asheville. Interstate 40 then merges with US 74 (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). I-40 and US 74 encounters the Interstate 26, Interstate 240 interchange in the southwestern part of the city. The interchange is the current western terminus of Interstate 240 and the historic terminus of Interstate 26. Interstate 40 then goes along the south side of Asheville, north of the Biltmore Estate towards Hickory. I-240 and I-40 have another interchange before I-40 leaves the Asheville area. Interstate 40 goes south of Black Mountain and Marion, and north of Conover. When I-40 enters Hickory it has a clover interchange with US 321. Interstate 40 then heads south of Hickory and crosses Catawba River. I-40 enters Statesville north of the city. It has major interchanges with US 64 and US 21 before utilizing a clover interchange with Interstate 77. I-40 heads northeast towards Winston-Salem passing Mocksville and Clemmons. When Interstate 40 enters Winston-Salem it has another major interchange this time with US 421 and Interstate 40 Business. I-40 Business/US 421 head north to go through downtown Winston-Salem while I-40 goes just south of the city. Interstate 40 has another clover interchange with US 52/US 311/NC 8. US 311 run a concurrency with Interstate 40 for 2.1 miles (3.4 km). Interstate 74/US 311 exit off to the south while I-40 heads back northeast to meet up with US 421 and Interstate 40 Business. US 421 runs a concurrency with I-40 into Greensboro.
Interstate 40 enters the Greensboro area at the I-73/US 421/I-840 interchange. This interchange is the east end of the US 421 concurrency with I-40 and is also the planned western terminus of Interstate 840. From there Interstate 40 heads through southwestern Greensboro. Interstate 40 passes Wendover Place and Four Seasons Town Centre before having another large interchange with US 220. 1 mile after the interchange with US 220 I-85 Business/US 29/US 70 all merge into I-40/US 220 for one large concurrency. The road is generally a six-lane freeway through the entire concurrency between Interstate 40 and Interstate 85 Business.
This 2.5-mile (4.0 km) corridor with concurrent routes ends in the east at the US 29/US 70/US 220/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard junction. Both the beginning and ending interchanges of this corridor are quite unusual in design and are often operating at above full capacity, leading to frequent traffic jams and traffic incidents.
I-40 through Greensboro officially bears the name Preddy Boulevard. The nickname "Death Valley" has been given to the area of Interstate 40 where Interstate 40 and Business Interstate 85 splits. The locals have given that area that name because of the high number of deaths due to car crashes in that area. One major problem with the highway is that the U.S. 29/220/70 southbound lanes merge from the right, and exit to the left. Thus, through traffic on I-40 west and US 29 south (a major route from Virginia to Charlotte) must all merge to the other side of the freeway. A study conducted by state traffic engineers from May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2008 (the period between the I-85 relocation and I-40's relocation) concluded that "the Death Valley area" had an accident rate "higher than average for urban interstates ... but the [route] was safe anyway." There were no fatalities during the study period, but a large number of rear-end collisions.
I-40 merges with I-85 east of Greensboro ending the I-85 concurrency. I-40 and I-85 have a 31 miles (50 km) concurrency through Guilford, Alamance, and Orange Counties. The concurrency section uses I-85 exit numbers instead of I-40 exit numbers. The section goes south of Elon, Burlington, Graham, and Mebane. Interstate 40 breaks ways from Interstate 85 at exit 163, south of Hillsborough.
After I-40 breaks away from I-85 it heads in a very southeasterly direction towards Chapel Hill. I-40 parallels NC 86 until NC 86 crosses I-40 at exit 266. I-40 is routed along northern Chapel Hill and then through southern Durham. I-40 enters the Research Triangle area after an interchange with NC 147. The Interstate varies in width, from four-lane to eight-lane depending on the location. It serves as a major route between Raleigh, Cary and Durham (the other being US 70). After leaving the Research Triangle area Interstate 40 has an interchange with Interstate 540 near the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Several Interstate 40 exits serve Raleigh-Durham including, Aviation Parkway, Airport Blvd, and Interstate 540. I-40 continues to head southeast towards Downtown Raleigh. Interstate 40 is routed north of Cary and south of Umstead State Park. At Wade Avenue Interstate 40 bears right to head south. US 1, US 64, Interstate 440, and I-40. I-40 then runs a concurrency with US 64 along the south side of Raleigh before merging to the right to head toward Benson.
Interstate 40 heads in a very southern direction until the interchange with Interstate 95. Within 5 miles from Raleigh, Interstate 40 has another concurrency with US 70. US 70 follows I-40 until the Clayton Bypass (exit 309). Interstate 40 continues south with exits at NC 42, NC 210, and NC 242. Interstate 40 then has an interchange with Interstate 95 near Benson, North Carolina. Interstate 40 then runs south towards Clinton and Warsaw. Starting near Faison Interstate 40 runs parallel with US 117 and this continues through the rest of the route. Most of the surrounding area of I-40 in Eastern North Carolina are rural so traffic is somewhat down on this section of I-40. A rest area exists off NC 24 in Warsaw. The median of I-40 widens to put the rest area between the eastbound and westbound lanes. I-40 passes the Duplin Winery in Duplin County. As Interstate 40 nears Wilmington it passes Burgaw and then crosses the NE Cape Fear River. Interstate 40 has an interchange with Interstate 140/US 17. As I-40 nears its terminus the speed limit is set down to 55, instead of 70 which is in place from Garner on. Exit 420 is the last exit on I-40 before its terminus on US 117/NC 132
Dedicated and memorial names
I-40 in North Carolina feature a few dedicated or memorialized stretches of freeway.
- Blue Star Memorial Highway - Unofficial North Carolina honorary name of Interstate 40 throughout the state.
- Dan K. Moore Freeway - Official North Carolina name of Interstate 40 from the Research Triangle Park, in Durham County, to Tom Bradshaw Freeway, in Wake County (approved: 11/8/1985).
- Henry L. Stevens, Jr. Highway - Official North Carolina name of Interstate 40 from mile marker 357 to mile marker 371, in Duplin County (approved: 6/2/2000).
- John Motley Morehead, III Freeway - Official North Carolina name of Interstate 40 from US 15-US 501 to the Research Triangle Park, in Durham County(approved: 9/10/1987).
- Sam Hunt Freeway - Official North Carolina name of Interstates 40/85 from the Guilford-Alamance county line to one mile east of NC 54, in Graham (approved: 9/5/1997).
- Tobacco Road - Informal name given by college sports fans, because Interstate 40 links four schools in the ACC.
- Trooper David H. Dees Memorial Bridge - Official North Carolina name of bridge over Rockfish Creek on Interstate 40 (approved: 1/9/2003).
- Michael Jordan Freeway-Is signed once on west Interstate 40 coming out of Wilmington
Halfway House Asheville Nc Video
Construction on I-40 through North Carolina officially began in 1956 along the Pigeon River in Haywood County. This would be the first section of I-40 to be built anywhere in the country. This section was completed in 1968, and was among the first Interstate Highway tunnels east of the Mississippi River. Construction continued through the 1950s and 1960s, with much of the interstate being constructed in the 1960s.
The Durham Freeway began with a 1962 bond referendum. The first section of the road, completed in 1970 around downtown Durham, was designated Interstate 40. The road was later extended west to Erwin Road and southward to where it now meets the current I-40, but the decision was made for I-40 to bypass Durham.
In 1971, the North Carolina State Highway Commission approved a plan to extend I-40 from Research Triangle Park to Interstate 95, a distance of 41 miles, at a cost of $75 million. Most of the highway would be four lanes, though six lanes were likely near Raleigh, where I-40 would extend the Beltline. Several routes were being considered, but at the time, the most likely route would have ended north of Smithfield.
For 15 years, Orange County opposed I-40. The county dropped its lawsuit in 1983. By 1985, the $103 million 22-mile (35 km) project, connecting Research Triangle Park with I-85, was under way. The section between U.S. 15-501 and New Hope Church Road opened in September 1988. Late in 1988, the final 4.2 miles (6.8 km) of I-40 between I-85 and Raleigh opened.
Also in 1988, Gov. James G. Martin announced federal approval of $114.1 million for I-40 to be relocated around Winston-Salem.
By the end of 1988, widening an existing section of I-85, by this time also designated as I-40, to six lanes from Greensboro to Burlington was being considered. This was later changed to eight lanes.
Late in 1988, the final 4.2 miles (6.8 km) of I-40 between I-85 and Raleigh opened. The plan was later changed to eight lanes. The $175 million project began in 1989. With the opening of a 2.3-mile (3.7 km) section in Alamance County on November 23, 1994, 21 miles (34 km) of I-85/I-40 were eight lanes. An additional 14 miles (23 km) were to be ready by 1996, giving the interstate eight lanes all the way to where I-40 turned southward at Hillsborough.
The last portion of I-40 to be completed, between Raleigh and Wilmington, was opened on June 29, 1990, by Governor Martin. Much of Martin's election campaign in the mid-1980s was hinged on opening this section for the sake of improving access to the North Carolina State Port at Wilmington.
A standard distance sign near the start of the westbound section of I-40 in Wilmington indicates the distance to Barstow, California, as 2,554 miles (4,110 km).
Original Triangle Routing
Originally, I-40 carried a very different route through the Triangle. When the NCDOT planned to extend I-40 to Raleigh, they planned to route it through Durham on the current NC-147. It continued on its current alignment to the Wade Avenue intersection, but continued onto Wade Avenue freeway and ended at US 1. However, a series of problems in building the freeway through downtown Durham and around the Duke University campus caused the state to reroute I-40 through rural Orange County and southern Durham. The partially completed route through Durham was renumbered NC-147 and eventually completed in the mid 1990s. In Cary, I-40 was rerouted to its current alignment in the mid 1980s, leaving the current Wade Avenue "stub".
Pigeon River Gorge
The first section of I-40 in North Carolina is the section that travels through the Pigeon River Gorge in Haywood County. Known locally as simply "The Gorge", this part of I-40 cuts a path from the Tennessee state line to Waynesville. This section of the interstate is fairly curvy and tends to become a bit narrow in some places when compared to other portions of the highway. Because much of the road was cut through mountainside, concrete retaining walls have been built on both sides of the road and in the median, cutting down on the width of the breakdown lanes. Coupled with speeding vehicles, the extremely thick fog that tends to plague the area, and little room to maneuver in case of accident, this area has become notorious for its severe and many times fatal accidents. It is reported that a person is 20 times as likely to die on I-40 in Haywood County than they would be to win the Powerball lottery, which equals to be twice the average of any other Interstate Highway in North Carolina.
Even some minor accidents have been known to tie up traffic in this area, because there is little room to move accidents off or to the side of the road with the terrain. Speeding semi trucks have been a problem in the gorge and have subsequently led to many accidents. In 2002 and 2003, two state troopers were killed in two separate accidents by speeding trucks that drifted off the road and hit their police car conducting a traffic stop. This led the North Carolina Highway Patrol to crack down on speeding tractor trailers and speeders in general through the area.
This portion of the highway is also notorious for rockslides and rocks falling onto the highway. The main cause is an engineering flaw, in that sections of the highway have been built on the north side of the Pigeon River, where the rock strata foliate towards the highway.
In 1985, a severe rockslide buried the westbound entrance to one of two tunnels that carry the highway through the gorge. Repair of the slide area and the tunnel required shifting westbound traffic to the eastbound tunnel, while eastbound traffic was diverted onto a temporary viaduct around the tunnels. In July 1997, a rockslide near the Tennessee state line closed the road for nearly six months. The road was fully or partially closed due to rockslides on several occasions since then in 2009 and 2012.
Greensboro I-40 relocation
In February 2008, Interstate 40 was rerouted onto the new Greensboro Urban Loop. The former path of I-40 became Business Loop I-40.
NCDOT received many complaints by local residents and motorists on the confusion between mainline Interstate 40 and Business 40, which used a shield differing only in color from the mainline I-40. Greensboro residents also had concerns with the resulting increased traffic. On September 12, 2008, seven months after the initial switch, NCDOT officials got permission from the FHWA to restore Interstate 40 back to its original route through the city, decommission Business Interstate 40, and leave I-73 and I-85 as the only interstates signed along the loop with US 421. Exit numbers on the I-40 part of the Loop that ran with I-73 will be replaced with I-73 exit numbers from the I-85/US 220 southern interchange around the loop to the western I-40 interchange. US 421 was officially rerouted to replace most of I-40 around Greensboro.
Work on re-signing the Loop and the former Business 40 began on May 8, 2009, with the exception of the eastern I-40/85 interchange, where signs were changed in the fall of 2008. The re-signing project was completed on July 1, 2009.
The current alignment of I-40 is four miles (6 km) shorter than the 2008 Urban Loop routing, and is a quicker route for any vehicle consistently traveling at the posted speed limits.
In Statesville, the I-40/I-77 interchange (exit 152) is currently being upgraded. The upgrade is planned in three phases: reconstruction of nearby intersections on both interstates, reconstruction and widening of I-40/I-77 interchange, and construction of fly-overs at interchange. The estimated cost for the entire project is $251 million with construction to begin in March 2012. It will replace the current interchange, which was built in the late 1960s.
A widening project along Interstate 40 is in development stage, between mile markers 259 and 279, in Orange and Durham counties. The estimated cost is $18 million, with date of construction to begin February 2019. However, it is currently flagged by NCDOT as "Subject to Reprioritization."
A widening project along Interstate 40 is in development stage, between mile markers 301 and 312, in Wake and Johnston counties. The estimated costs have yet to be determined. Property acquisition is to start late 2013 thru 2015.
Auxiliary routes in North Carolina
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