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Photo: I-40's exit with old NC 6 west of Greensboro (reverse side 1961 Official map)
|I-40 420 miles|
Begins at the Tennessee State line at Mt. Serling (Haywood County) and ends at US 117/NC 132 near Wilmington (New Hanover County).
Nationally I-40 runs from Wilmington to I-15 Barstow, CA
|Towns and Attractions:||Haywood Co.: Pisgah Nat'l Forest, Clyde, Canton
Buncombe Co.: Enka, Asheville, Swannanoa, Black Mountain
McDowell Co.: Marion
Burke Co.: Morganton, Valdese, Rutherford College, Icard
Catawba Co.: Hickory, Conover
Iredell Co.: Statesville
Davie Co.: Mocksville
Forsyth Co.: Clemmons, Winston-Salem
Guilford Co.: Greensboro
Alamance Co.: Burlington, Graham
Orange Co.: Hillsborough
Durham Co.: Research Triangle Park
Wake Co.: Raleigh, Garner
Johnston Co.: Benson
Sampson Co.: Newton Grove
Duplin Co.: Warsaw
Pender Co.: Burgaw
New Hanover Co.: Wilmington
Many of the following timelines are from North Carolina's I-40 entry on their 50th anniversary of interstates website.
I-40 was an original 1957 interstate that first appears on the 1959 Official as open from US 421 (now Exit 16 of I-40 Bus) Kernersville east to its endpoint of US 29-70 (also I-85 in 1960) Greensboro. According to NCDOT, I-40 was also assigned by then to 3 miles of the Winston-Salem Expressway which was built as part of US 158 a couple years prior.
The 1960 Official shows I-40 open from Exit 94 in western Burke County to US 64-A (now SR 1890 I-40 Access Rd SE) at Hildebran; also from NC 16 Conover to NC 90 Statesville; also NC 801 to the US 158-421 spilt east of Winston-Salem.
The 1961 Official shows I-40 open from Black Mountain to Old Fort utilizing the US 70 alignment down the escarpment that was built in 1954; also from NC 226 Marion east to Exit 94; also NC 90 to US 64 on the other side of Statesville utilizing the US 64 Bypass of Statesville first built about 1954.
The 1962 Official shows I-40 open from Old Fort to NC 226.
The 1963 Official shows I-40 open from east Winston-Salem to Kernersville.
The 1964 Official shows I-40 open from what is now the US 74 split at Clyde east to a connector called US 23-A just inside Buncombe County (now exit 37).
The 1967 Official shows I-40 open from NC 191 to US 25 in Asheville.
In 1968, I-40 was opened from the Tennessee Line to US 276 at Cove Creek.
In Nov 1968, NCDOT requested from the Bureau of Public Roads to extended I-40 east through Greensboro and Raleigh to end at I-95.
The 1969 Official shows I-40 open from US 19-23 Enka to NC 191.
The 1970 Official shows I-40 open from US 64 Mocksville to NC 801.
The 1971 Official shows I-40 open from Exit 37 to US 19-23 Enka; also US 64 Statesville to US 64 Mocksville.
In Dec 1971 (NCDOT), I-40 was open from what is now NC 147 RTP to what is now Exit 289 Wade Ave in Raleigh. Although maps show Wade Ave as a continuous freeway with I-40. I have found NO official map or Wake County map that shows anything on Wade Ave east of where it now leaves I-40 as part of I-40. I cannot vouch from experience how Wade Ave was posted from what is now I-440 at that time. on the west end, there is no map evidence I-40 was ever assigned to what is now NC 147 heading north into Durham.
The 1972 Official shows I-40 open from US 25 to Oteen.
The 1974 Official shows I-40 open from US 276 to Exit 37; also Oteen to Swannanoa
The 1976 Official shows I-40 open from Hildebran to NC 16.
The 1979 Official shows I-40 open from Swannanoa to Black Mountain, making I-40 continuous from Tennessee to Greensboro.
In Jan 1982 (NCDOT), I-40 was officially assigned to US 70 between Black Mountain and Old Fort. This is odd since every official map from 1961 onward shows this as an interstate. However, the official county maps only showed this as US 70.
In 1983 or 1984, I-40 was opened from Wade Ave south to US 1, then along the southside of the newly opened Raleigh Beltline.
In Aug 1984 (NCDOT), I-40 was assigned to the freeway from its current eastern end north to US 117 south of Wallace. This was briefly assigned as NC 132 prior to this. The 1985 Official showed I-40 as actually opened only from NC 210 to US 117.
The 1986 Official showed I-40 as open from NC 55 to NC 147; also NC 210 south to its present end at Exit 420.
The 1987 official showed I-40 open from US 117 to NC 41 at Wallace.
The 1988 Official showed I-40 open from US 15-501 to NC 55; also the Raleigh Beltline south to US 70 Garner.
The 1989 Official showed I-40 open from I-85 to US 15-501; also US 70 Garner to NC 210 (Johnston Co)
The 1990 Official showed I-40 open from NC 210 to I-95 Benson; also US 117 Warsaw to NC 41 Wallace.
In Jan 1991 (NCDOT), I-40 was assigned to the freeway from I-95 Benson to US 117 Wallace.
In Nov 1992 (NCDOT), I-40 was given its freeway bypass of Winston-Salem. A portion of this utilized the US 311 freeway built in the mid-1980s but otherwise was all new construction. The old route through Winston-Salem became I-40 Business and remained part of US 421.
In Feb 2008 (per interstate guide.com), I-40 was placed on a bypass of Greensboro using newly constructed freeway and being added to the recently opened I-85 bypass of Greensboro. The old route through Greensboro became I-40 Bus.
In Sept 2008 (per interstate guide.com), I-40 was returned to its original Greensboro routing. The southwest piece of the bypass route became I-73 while the southeast part remained I-85.
The NCDOT 50th anniversary page notes that I-40s tunnels near the Tennessee border are "the only tunnels on the interstate system east of the
Mississippi River." I guess they meant tunnels through mountains. There are several interstate tunnels under bodies of water on the Eastern Seaboard. The tunnels are at MM 5 and MM 8, with only a WB tube at MM 8.
I-40 along the Pigeon River has had some notable landslides over the last 20 years. Many have closed I-40 to through traffic, requiring a detour either through ther Smoky Mtn Nat'l Park and US 441 or utilizing US 25-70 northwest out of Asheville.
I-40 is by far the longest interstate in North Carolina and the 4th longest route behind US 70, US 74, and US 64.
The first official map to explicitly show the I-40/85 duplex was the 1993 issue.
The longest highway mileage sign in North Carolina resides at the east end of I-40. California returned the favor. Pictures courtesy Gary Benson
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