First Section Opened: 2005
Full Completion Date: After 2015?
to NC 133 Section Opened: August 2005
NC 133 to US 421/ I-40 to US 17 Sections Opened:
June 30, 2006
Six Mile Section from
US 17 to US 74/76 Under Construction, Due to be Completed in July 2013
Interstate 140 is signed along the
western half of the the Wilmington Northern Outer Loop, also known as the US 17 Wilmington
Bypass, a planned 27-mile freeway from US 17 near Scotts Hill westward
over I-40 then further west to US 74-76 then south to US 17
near the town of Town Creek. The following map shows the completed
sections of the route*:
Map courtesy of Wilmingtontoday.com
Three different construction
projects have been undertaken to build nearly 12 miles of the
Outer Loop route from Scotts Hill to US 421. Work began on two projects covering the
6.5 mile I-140 section from I-40 to US 421 in mid-2001. The three-mile
section from I-40 to Castle Hayne Road (NC 133) was completed first,
with the roadway opened to traffic on August 22, 2005. (1)
The 3.5 mile section from NC 133 to US 421, including a bridge over the
Cape Fear River (named for former Wilmington Mayor Dan Cameron) was opened
to traffic on June 30, 2006. (2) Construction on the 5 mile section
east of I-40, signed only as US 17 and known as the John J. Burney Jr.
Freeway, was started in late 2003 and this section was also opened
to traffic on June 30, 2006. (2,3) Interchanges along the I-140 section
are for I-40, NC 133 and US 421. When the road opened these interchanges
did not have exit numbers, these were added in spring or summer of 2007.
(An exit list is below.) A future I-140 interchange is planned for Blue Clay
Road which will take traffic to the Wilmington International Airport and
another is to be built on the section from I-40 to US 17 at the planned Military Cutoff Extension, US 17 will actually leave the
bypass and travel north on the extension to current US 17 north of Scotts
Hill. (4) Work on the next section from US 421 to US 74-76, approximately
7 miles, was originally scheduled to start in 2009, (5) but this segment's
construction has been delayed until 2012. Instead what was to be the final
section, approximately 5 miles from US 74-76 to US 17 near its intersection
with NC 87 was funded through federal stimulus moneys and work began under
a design-build contract in late March 2010 (for more detail, see below).
(6) Even though the route will not be a complete bypass for US 17 until
after 2015, (7) when the latest segments were opened, US 17 was routed
over them and then south on US 421 to its existing alignment for the time
being. The former US 17 through Wilmington became US 17 Business. Streets
in downtown Wilmington signed as Truck US 17 were decommissioned.(5) The
FHWA granted the interstate designation for the entire Outer Loop route
on May 31, 2003 including the section east of I-40, it is unknown at this
time why NCDOT decided not to sign that portion as an interstate. (8) A
proposed extension of I-20 from Florence, SC (or perhaps I-74 or a spur
of I-74, see HERE)
would meet I-140 where it would intersect the existing US 74-76 freeway.
signage along NC 133, Castle Hayne Road, nearing the I-140 interchange,
An I-140 Extension? The NCDOT Strategic Highway Corridor
map of the Wilmington area shows I-140 being extended 9.5 miles
over the proposed Cape Fear Skyway south and east back over the
Cape Fear River to US 421. (See map below (10)).
This is NCTA's preferred route for the Skyway, one of several
proposed projects of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) and
would be constructed as a toll highway. The prefered route
of the Skyway bridge would run from Carolina Beach Road at Independence
Boulevard south of Wilmington over the Cape Fear River. It would then
connect to US 17 through a 8-mile-long extension of Interstate 140
from it's current planned end near Town Creek. This alignment has
not been finalized (see below), however. The project, if officially approved,
is expected to cost between $1 and 1.5 billion and could start as early
as 2013 with a completion date of 2017. (11) A feasibility study completed
during the summer of 2008 indicated only about 50% of the construction
could be funded by tolls. Additional funding from the state would be needed.
(12) More information is available at the official NC Turnpike Authority
page discussing the project, HERE.
Photo of exit signage for the NC 133 interchange along West I-140,
May 2006. Since then exit numbers have been added, this is now Exit 18:
Photo courtesy of Adam Prince
in Next Section to be Built: NCDOT announced in July 2009 that federal
stimulus funds would help start further construction on I-140/US 17. The next
section to be constructed though is not going to be from US 421 to US 74/76,
Segment "B", but the section between US 74/76 and US 17 near NC 87, Segment
"A''. This is a design/build construction project which began in March 2010.
This segment was more 'shovel ready' and able to receive stimulus funds.
Segment "B" has another water crossing and is still undergoing right-of-way
purchasing. The shedule now has the US 421 to US 74/76 section starting in
2012 which means though there will be a gap in the route for at least a couple
years. (13) The entire route could open as early as 2015.
Not the first I-140 proposal. This is not the first route NCDOT
proposed as I-140. In 1999
officials in Sanford wanted the newly completed US 1 freeway from Raleigh
to their city designated an interstate to help attract further business.
NCDOT applied to the FHWA to have the freeway designated as Interstate
140. The FHWA rejected the designation, however, saying Sanford was not
a large enough urban area to warrant its own interstate highway.
Perhaps some day if all of US 1 is made a freeway
between I-40 in Raleigh and I-73/74 in Rockingham (as proposed in the
NCDOT Strategic Highway Corridors plan) then someone may suggest revisiting
a US 1 interstate designation proposal.
*This map, unlike
others including some from NCDOT (above) reflect FHWA and AASHTO decisions
that the eastern half of the bypass can be signed as I-140, apparently
not agreed to by NCDOT. Here's the signage at the start
of the Loop in Scott's Hill that reflects NCDOT's decision, and the first
I-140 Exit List (14):
US 421 (US 17 South)
(1) MGrath, Gareth. 2005. "First Leg
of Bypass Set to Open." Wilmington Star-News. August 18. Downloaded
(2) McGrath, Gareth. 2006. "Relief for Commuters." Wilmington
[N. C.] Star-News, June 29.
(3) NCDOT. May 2006. NCDOT Construction
Progress Report, Contracts C105517 and C200220, downloaded
(4) McGrath, Gareth. 2005. "Jump-Start; Part of
Loop to Open Before Rest." Wilmington [N.C.] Star-News.
(5) McGrath, Gareth. 2006. "Two Sections of Outer Loop Opening Soon."
Wilmington [N. C.] Star-News, June 20.
(6) NCDOT. 2006. "NCDOT Opens Two New Sections of Wilmington Bypass."
Press Release, June 30.
(7) NCDOT. 2007. Changes between the 07-13 STIP and Draft 09-15 STIP,
Division 3, Downloaded from: http://www.ncdot.org/planning/ development/TIP/TIP/Trans/pdf/div3changes.pdf,
Nov. 4, 2007
(8) E-Mail from Stephen Summers,
August 2, 2005.
(9) WRAL TV. 2003. "Easley Announces
Strategic Transportation Plan" Downloaded from http://www.wral.com/traffic/2180629/detail.html,
(10) NCDOT. 2004. Strategic Highway
Corridors Vision Map-Southeastern North Carolina. Sept.
2. Downloaded from:
(11) Gannon, Patrick. 2009. "Vision for Billion
Dollar Skway Clearer Now." Wilmington [N. C.] Star-News,
(12) North Carolina Turnpike Authority. 2006. Cape Fear Skyway
Project Page. Downloaded from http://www.ncdot.org/ncta/project/Cape_Fear/
May 8, 2006.
(13) Gannon, Patrick. 2009. "U.S. 17's Brunswick Leg to Be Started Earlier
Than Planned." Wilmington [N.C.] Star-News. July 15. Downloaded from
July 22, 2009.
(14) Information courtesy if NC Exit Lists, downloaded from http://www.gribblenation.com/ncexits/i140nc.html;
Last updated: 6/2/10