U.S. 74

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Southeasterly view of the U.S. 74 freeway from the U.S. 74 Business overpass west of Rockingham. 12/21/08

U.S. 74 is a major highway that traverses the width of North Carolina. Many sections of U.S. 74 were upgraded to limited access standards, some of which are incorporated in the Interstate 74 corridor from Rockingham to Wilmington. The US highway concludes in Wrightsville Beach at a cul-de-sac, over 400 miles from the point where U.S. 74 enters the Tarheel State from neighboring Tennessee.

U.S. 74 North Carolina Guides

Auxiliary Routes

A $19 million project expanded the interchange joining the U.S. 74 freeway around Columbus with Interstate 26 in Polk County. Direct ramps were constructed from U.S. 74 west to I-26 east and from I-26 west to U.S. 74 east. These allow motorists to avoid the adjacent I-26 dog bone interchange with Mills Street, which previously provided part of the connection between the two freeways. Construction ran from late October 2017 to August 17, 2018.1

Through Cleveland County, long term construction on the U.S. 74 Shelby Bypass realigns U.S. 74 onto an Interstate standard freeway around Shelby. Split into six sections and costing $284 million, the 18.5 mile long highway bypasses Shelby to the north, extending east from near Peachtree Road to U.S. 74 Business in Kings Mountain:

  • Section AA - 2 miles from west of Peachtree Road to east of Kimbrell Road. Construction started in July 2013 and was completed in September 2016.
  • Section AB - 1.9 miles east from Kimbrell Road to east of Plato Lee Road. Work started in July 2014 and continued to April 2018.
  • Section B - 2.6 miles east from Plato Lee Road to N.C. 226. Initial construction ran from July 2014 to April 2018. A $19 million paving contract for Section AB and Section B started in April 2018. Both sections opened to traffic on April 13, 2020.2
  • Section C - 5.3 miles from N.C. 226 to west of N.C. 150. Construction started in 2017 and extends to June 2022.
  • Section D - 4.1 miles between N.C. 150 and U.S. 74 west of Long Branch Road. Right-of-way acquisition started in 2019, followed by contract letting in June 2022.3 The anticipated start date for construction was delayed until 2024.
  • Section E - 2.6 miles from Long Branch Road to Stony Point Road and U.S. 74 Business in Kings Mountain. Design work and right of way purchasing continued into 2020. Construction is anticipated to start in 2022 2024.3

Through Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, $101.2 million4 in right of way and construction converted a 1.6 mile long section of U.S. 74 along Independence Boulevard into a limited access highway. Work underway from April 2013 to Fall 2017 upgraded Independence Boulevard southeast from NC 24/27 (Albemarle Road) to a point east of Wallace Lane. Interchanges were built at Sharon Amity Road and Idlewild Roads and Conference Drive was elevated to cross U.S. 74 on a new overpass.

Further southeast along U.S. 74, the Monroe Expressway (U.S. 74 Bypass) is a toll road allowing through traffic to bypass Monroe and Wingate from Interstate 485 to Marshville. Partitioned into six sections, work started on the nearly 18.5 mile long expressway ran from May 2015 to November 2018. Opened on November 27, 2018, the toll road is operated by the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

U.S. 74/421-NC 133 span the Cape Fear River north from Eagle Island and the Battleship North Carolina museum. 11/11/06

U.S. 74 at Wilmington was rerouted from an overlap with U.S. 17/76 through Downtown onto the Isabel Holmes Bridge (Parsley Street Bridge) when the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway was completed in September 2005. The parkway comprises a controlled access route from N 3rd Street east to U.S. 17 Business (Market Street) at Eastwood Road, U.S. 74's original alignment toward Wrightsville Beach. The realignment between U.S. 17-76-421/NC 133 and U.S. 17 in Wilmington was approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on May 6, 2005.

U.S. 74 scenes
N 3rd Street leads out of Downtown Wilmington to U.S. 74/NC 133 (Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) at the east end of the Isabel Holmes Bridge. 11/11/06
3rd Street north defaults onto U.S. 74 east / NC 133 (Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) north ahead of McRae Street. U.S. 74/NC 133 span the North East Cape Fear River west and merge with U.S. 421 south to Eagle Island. 11/11/06
3rd Street directly links with the Isabel Holmes Bridge west above a wye interchange with U.S. 74/NC 133. Traffic signals operate at the westbound merge ahead of the double leaf bascule. 11/11/06
The Isabel Holmes Bridge, which carries U.S. 74/NC 133 over the North East Cape Fear River, was formerly part of U.S. 117 before the highway was rerouted onto NC 132 and Shipyard Boulevard. 05/29/05
N 23rd Street is an urban collector joining U.S. 17 Business (Market Street) with U.S. 74 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway) in Wilmington. 12/31/17
U.S. 74 bypasses Wilmington west to Leland and east to Fairview Road en route to Wrightsville Beach. 12/31/17
Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway is an expressway encircling the north side of the Wilmington city limits between the Isabel Holmes Bridge across the NE Cape Fear River and Fairview Road at U.S. 17 Business (Market Street). 12/31/17
N 23rd Street and U.S. 74 converge on respective bridges over Smith Creek. 12/31/17
The parclo B2 interchange joining U.S. 74 with N 23rd Street lies 1.42 miles north of U.S. 17 Business (Market Street). 12/31/17

  1. "Work to construct new US 74/I-26 interchange to start this week." Tryon Daily Bulleton (NC), October 23, 2017.
  2. "Shelby Bypass Segment Opening Tuesday." NCDOT, press release. April 13, 2020.
  3. "Re: North Carolina" online posting by cowboy_wilhelm. AARoads Forum, June 16, 2020.
  4. https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/us-74 -widening-improvements/Pages/default.aspx.

Photo Credits:

  • 05/29/05 by AARoads.
  • 11/11/06 by AARoads and Justin Cozart.
  • 12/31/17 by AARoads.

Connect with:
Interstate 26
Interstate 40
Interstate 74
Interstate 85
Interstate 95
Interstate 140
Interstate 277
Interstate 485 - Charlotte Beltway
U.S. 17
U.S. 15
U.S. 19
U.S. 23
U.S. 25
U.S. 29
U.S. 64
U.S. 70
U.S. 76
U.S. 421

Page Updated 12-02-2021.

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