Interstate 40

Interstate 40 enters the state at Waterville along the Pigeon River Gorge. Both the freeway and river parallel one another south and east to junction U.S. 276 at Cove Creek.

Interstate 40 represents one of the original four interstates approved for the state of North Carolina in 1956. The first section, beginning with the 1957-opened stretch between U.S. 421 in Greensboro and North Carolina 66 at Kernersville, traveled 219 miles east from Tennessee to the merge with Interstate 85 in Greensboro. The pre-existing freeway of U.S. 421 from Winston-Salem eastward, built between 1949-50, was included in Interstate 40's alignment. The 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act authorized construction on Interstate 40 first through Pigeon River Gorge in Haywood County in 1958. Work followed on a 34.3-mile section of freeway through Burke and Catawba Counties in 1959.

By 1966, 119.4 miles of Interstate 40 were open to traffic, followed by the 1968 opening of the 22-mile Pigeon River Gorge alignment leading west to Tennessee, the most expensive project in North Carolina history at the time. These completions led to the 1968 request to the Bureau of Public Roads for additional Interstate mileage within North Carolina. The approved request extended Interstate 40 from Greensboro east to Raleigh and Interstate 95. Work followed soon thereafter with a section of new freeway opening in the Raleigh area by December 1971.

A third extension of Interstate 40 followed in April 1978 with an approval for a new freeway from Interstate 95 near Raleigh to Wilmington. Interstate 40 would not be completed east to Interstate 95 until 1989 however, but opening of the entire alignment to Wilmington would follow shortly on June 29, 1990.

Interstate 40 North Carolina Highway Guides

Interstate 40 scenes
Wiggins Road links U.S. 19 & 23 (Smokey Park Highway) with adjacent Interstate 40 via a diamond interchange (Exit 37) midway between Canton and Candler Heights. Photo taken 12/31/13.
Gashes Creek Road connects U.S. 74A and the east end of Interstate 240 with the eastbound on-ramp for I-40. Photo taken 12/31/13.
Porter Cove Road lowers from Swannanoa Mountains to meet Interstate 40 at a diamond interchange in east Asheville. The road connects the freeway (Exit 55) with adjacent U.S. 70. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Interstate 40 continues west from Porter Cove Road to split with Interstate 240 for Asheville. Porter Cove Road north passes over a Norfolk Southern Railroad line before ending at U.S. 70 (Tunnel Road) near Jones Mountain. Photo taken 05/31/07.
An Interstate 40 trailblazer directs drivers along Union Cross Road (SR 2643) south onto the eastbound freeway for Greensboro. A $30.3-million project expands 4.2 miles of SR 2643 from Sedge Garden Road to south of I-74. Work started on April 16, 2012 and runs through November 15, 2015. Photo taken 08/06/13.
Included in the widening of Union Cross Road at Interstate 40 is the reconstruction of the diamond interchange (Exit 201) into a diverging diamond (DDI). Photo taken 08/06/13.
Regional Road heads south from the Friendship area of west Greensboro to junction Interstate 40 and North Carolina 68 at Albert Pick Road (pictured here). Albert Pick Road constitutes an eastbound side frontage road of Interstate 40, joining Regional Road with the North Carolina 68 partial-cloverleaf interchange. Photo taken 07/24/04.
Albert Pick Road westbound at NC 68 and the eastbound on-ramp to Interstate 40. North Carolina 68 joins the High Point area with Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI). Photo taken 07/24/04.
Holly Shelter Road westbound at the eastbound on-ramp to Interstate 40. A folded-diamond interchange joins the two roadways east of Castle Hayne at Exit 414. Photo taken 11/11/06.
South Elm-Eugene Street at the Exit 220 diamond interchange of Interstate 40 & Business Loop Interstate 85 & U.S. 29-70-220. Elm and Eugene Street travel independent paths southward from downtown Greensboro but merge before Sussmans Street. The combined name applies to the arterial leading southward to Randleman Road. Photo taken 07/24/04.
A rare state-named shield for Interstate 40 joined the South Elm-Eugene Street northbound assembly within the Exit 220 diamond interchange of Interstate 40 and company. Photo taken 07/24/04.


  1. "Interstate 40 Fact Sheet," NCDOT.

Photo Credits:

  • 2004-07-24 by AARoads.
  • 2006-11-11 by AARoads.
  • 2007-05-31 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 2013-08-06 by AARoads.
  • 2013-12-31 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.

Connect with:
Interstate 26
Interstate 73
Interstate 74
Interstate 77
Interstate 85
Interstate 95
Interstate 240
Interstate 440 / Cliff Benson Beltline
Interstate 540 - Northern Wake Expressway
Future Interstate 840 - Greensboro Beltway
U.S. Highway 321

Page Updated 10-14-2015.

© AARoads