I-40 (nc)

This article is about the section of Interstate 40 in North Carolina. For the entire length of the highway, see Interstate 40.

Interstate 40
;">Route information
Maintained by North Carolina DOT
Length:
Existed: 1956 – present
;">Major junctions
West end: Template:Jct/extra I-40 at Tennessee state line
  Template:Jct/extra I-26 / I-240 / US 74 in Asheville
Template:Jct/extra I-240 / US 74A in Asheville
Template:Jct/extra I-77 in Statesville
Template:Jct/extra I-73 / US 421 in Greensboro
Template:Jct/extra I-85 near Greensboro
Template:Jct/extra I-540 / NC 540 in Durham
Template:Jct/extra I-440 / US 1 / US 64 in Raleigh
Template:Jct/extra I-95 near Benson
Template:Jct/extra I-140 / US 17 near Wilmington
East end: Template:Jct/extra US 117 / NC 132 in Wilmington
Length:
Length:
Length:
Length:
;">
;">Highway system

Interstate 40 runs 421 miles (678 km) through the state of North Carolina from the Tennessee state line in the west to its eastern terminus in Wilmington.

Route description

Through Greensboro


Throughout much of the Greensboro metropolitan area, I-40 follows a stretch of six to ten-lane freeway carrying five other routes: Business I-85, U.S. Route 421, U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 70, and U.S. Route 220. This 2.5-mile (4.0 km) corridor with concurrent routes begins in the west at the I-40/Business I-85/Randleman Road interchange and ends in the east at the U.S. Highway 29/70/220/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard junction. Both of these interchanges 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" was originally given to the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) segment of I-85 in Greensboro in 1963 after seven people died in accidents there the previous year. In 1964, the state unveiled a plan to eliminate Death Valley's flaws. After numerous construction projects, conditions improved along the corridor, but the nickname remained. Over the years, increased traffic through the area has given the nickname "Death Valley" new meaning. The nickname is well-known by locals, news reporters, and frequent travelers.[citation needed]

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."[1] There were no fatalities during the study period, but a large number of rear-end collisions.[1]

Through the Triangle

I-40 through the Research Triangle varies in width, from 4 lanes to 8 lanes depending on the location. It serves as a major artery between Raleigh, Cary and Durham (the other being US-70).

I-40 is called Dan K. Moore Freeway from Durham to Wade Avenue and Tom Bradshaw Freeway and Cliff Benson Beltline through Raleigh. The James E. Harrington Freeway stretches to Newton Grove.

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".

Eastern North Carolina

I-40 is 4 lanes from the eastern edge of Raleigh to Wilmington as it crosses through mostly agricultural land.

Alternate names

Though the highway is commonly known as "Interstate 40" or "I-40" throughout the state, the highway does have other known names it uses locally in areas.

  • Blue Star Memorial Highway – Unofficial North Carolina honorary name of Interstate 40 throughout the state.[2]
  • 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).[3]
  • 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).[3]
  • 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).[3]
  • 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).[3]
  • Tobacco Road – Informal name given by college sports fans, because Interstate 40 links four schools in the ACC.[4]
  • Trooper David H. Dees Memorial Bridge – Official North Carolina name of bridge over Rockfish Creek on Interstate 40 (approved: 1/9/2003).[3]

History


Construction

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.[5] 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.[5]

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.[6]

For 15 years, Orange County opposed I-40. The county dropped its lawsuit in 1983.[7] By 1985, the $103 million 22-mile (35 km) project, connecting Research Triangle Park with I-85, was under way.[8] The section between U.S. 15-501 and New Hope Church Road opened in September 1988.[9] Late in 1988, the final 4.2 miles (6.8 km) of I-40 between I-85 and Raleigh opened.[7]

Also in 1988, Gov. James G. Martin announced federal approval of $114.1 million for I-40 to be relocated around Winston-Salem.[9]

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.[10][11] This was later changed to eight lanes.[12]

Late in 1988, the final 4.2 miles (6.8 km) of I-40 between I-85 and Raleigh opened.[7] 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.[13]

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).

Rockslides in the 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.[14]

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.[15]

On October 25, 2009, a major rockslide, including boulders described as the size of houses, blocked the highway completely at mile marker 2.6. The section reopened with westbound traffic restricted to one lane on April 25, 2010.[16] Trucks wider than 12 feet (3.7 m) are still prohibited through the slide area, and must still use the I-26 and I-81 detour.[17]

On January 31, 2012 a rockslide occurred early morning near mile marker 451 in Tennessee, approximately 1 mile from the border. All westbound traffic was closed down and from exit 20 (US 276), except for local traffic. The official detour for westbound traffic is to use I-240/I-26 and I-81. It was estimated to take two weeks to clear and stabilize the area; eastbound traffic from Tennessee is unaffected.[18][19][20]

On February 3, 2012, another rockslide blocked the westbound lanes (only) at mile marker 7. These lanes had already been closed because of a rockslide a short distance west in Tennessee.[21][22] On February 5, westbound traffic was reopened along the route, with one lane open at the rockslide location on the Tennessee side.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25][24] The re-signing project was completed on July 1, 2009.[26]

The current alignment of I-40 is four miles (6 km) shorter than the 2008 Urban Loop routing,[1] and is a quicker route for any vehicle consistently traveling at the posted speed limits.

Future

In Statesville, the I-40/I-77 interchange (exit 152) is planned for major upgrade 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.[27][28][29]

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."[30]

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.[31]

Auxiliary routes in North Carolina

Interstate City Type Notes
Interstate 40 Business Winston-Salem Business loop Freeway grade throughout
Interstate 140 Wilmington Spur Partially constructed
Interstate 240 Asheville Business loop
Interstate 440 Raleigh Beltway
Interstate 540 Raleigh Spur/Beltway Designated along the Northern Wake Freeway
Interstate 840 Greensboro Beltway Partially completed northern bypass, under construction

Exit list

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See also

References

External links

Template:AttachedKML

  • Template:Sister-inline
  • News & Record: New roads, old worries (Aug 26, 2007)
  • News & Record - Nation's interstates turn 50
  • Gribblenation - Greensboro Bypass Photos
  • NCDOT article on the I-40 relocation (Sept 12, 2008)


Interstate 40
Previous state:
Tennessee
North Carolina Next state:
Terminus
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