Thumbnail image of NC Interstate 73 shield Segment 11 / Thumbnail image of NC Interstate 74 shield Segment 12

Image of map segment showing I-73/I-74 Segment 11

Where:   Open I-73/I-74 and US 220 Freeway,

Future Rockingham Bypass Freeway

Length:   Approx. 10.5 Miles

Needed:   Upgrade Current Highway to Interstate Standards and Construct New Highway

Completed Route Signed as: Image of NC I-73 shield from Shields Up! I-74 NC shield image from Shields Up! US 220 shield image from wikimedia

Completion Dates:
Reconstruct US 220-COMPLETE as of June 2018

Freeway Bypass-2028?

Segment Information

NCDOT contractors started to build the first phase of the a freeway bypass west of Rockingham, listed as STIP Project R-3421C, and Contract 202962 on March 3, 2014. I-73 and I-74 will be routed from an upgraded US 220 onto a bypass of Rockingham which is to be constructed during phase two. The first phase is 3.7 miles of the total project length of 10.5 miles, US 220 south of Ellerbe was upgraded to interstate standards along with new frontage roads on either side to allow access to current businesses. This section includes a new exit (23) at Dockery and Haywood Cemetery Roads. The completion date was April 9, 2018, delayed a month from March 2018 but at the end of April 2018 the work was listed as 94.4% complete (signifying the reason for the opening delay, the anticipated progress was 100%).1 At that time the route could have been open, but there were no reports about the work being completed by NCDOT or local media.Traffic is at least using the completed freeway lanes north from the Haywood Road exit, which is open according to Google Maps. On or before June 25, 2018 NCDOT removed the project from its project listings, indicating work on Phase 1 has been completed.2 In response to an e-mail sent to the NCDOT division overseeing the project on July 10, an NCDOT spokesman told Site contributor Strider that while there was still work to be done, all the lanes were open and traffic was using the final configuration along the new route.3 Work was confirmed complete by a trip along the route by site contributer Ben Thurkill in September, his photos are below.

This project had already been delayed from a start date of January 2013, due to unresolved issues involving utility relocation along the current US 220 highway.4 For this part $14.4 million was allotted for Right-of-Way acquisition, which occurred in 2010 and 2011 and total costs are estimated at $59.7 million.5

Remainder of Bypass Work Back on Track After Funding Announced

Work on the remaining part of the Bypass originally was to start in 2018, but it received low marks under the new NCDOT strategic allocation formula which made its debut in December 2014. Due to this, the project became unfunded, meaning, it was not included in the Final 2016-2025 STIP document released June 2015, and that meant that the earliest work could start is 2026.7 However, new funding for road construction announced by NC Governor McCrory in December 2015 became available finance unfunded projects, which included the plan to upgrade US 74 to the east of Rockingham (see I-74 Segment 14) to interstate standards by 2025. The funding of this project probably accelerated the proposal to complete the Bypass, since it would be the only gap in I-74 between Winston-Salem and Laurinburg. An updated February 2016 TIP document showed the project funded as two contracts, R-3421A from the US 74 Bypass near SR 1109, Zion Church Road to South of SR 1140, Old Charlotte Highway, 1.3 miles, with a construction cost of $65.5 million and R-3421B from SR 1140 to southwest of SR 1304, Harrington Road, 4.6 miles, costing $62.8 million lasting between 2022 to 2025.8 It would include two interchanges at Cartledge Creek Rd (Exit 20) and Blewitt Falls Rd (Exit 17), the US 74 interchange (Exit 15) would include a ramp to East Business 74 as well as to West US 74.6 About 1.5 miles of US 74 east of the new Bypass would also be reconstructed as part of the project (to add additional lanes). However, when the Draft 2017-2027 STIP was released in January 2017, the Rockingham Bypass work was put off to 'Post Years', meaning after 2027.9 Apparently the project received low marks in the new set of project scores, which also canceled the funding for the planned work to upgrade US 74 further east. Then in late June 2017, NCDOT announced that the project would be added to STIP whose formal approval came in August. Right of way work would continue while actual construction would start in 2026 continuing at least through 2028, the construction cost for R-3421A being $35.1 million and for R-3421B $37.3 million.10 In August 2018, NCDOT announced, as part of its 2020-2029 STIP development process, that the contract to build the Bypass was to be included in the funded projects for Region 8. Though a date for start of construction will have to wait until the Draft STIP is released in January 2019, it most likely will be at the end of the period, 2028 or 2029.11

Changes in Plans over the past Decade

In 2002, then NCDOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett indicated that NCDOT planned to lobby the Federal Highway Administration to have the existing four-lane section of US 220 designated Business I-74 when the bypass is complete.12 However, sign plans released for the project in December 2013 (see below) indicate that the current US 220 will keep its designation when the Bypass opens and there were no indications of any Business interstate designation(s).13 In 2000 a couple Future I-73/74 corridor signs were put up along existing US 220 in this area (see below). In July 2002 a Formal Design Public Hearing was held on the campus of Richmond Community College to discuss the project.14 Several more public hearings have been held since to keep local citizens updated.

Take a now nostalgic "Drive" on this Segment Using Google Maps Street View from 2016

US 220 South entering Construction Area: Just before the current End of I-73/I-74 (November 2016)

US 220 North at site of Future I-73 Interchange: Just South of Harrington Road (November 2016)

Photos from this Segment (Hover over for Larger View)

Photos taken on September 7, 2018 by Ben Thurkill:

Image of overhead signs at beginning of I-73 North and I-74 West north of Rockingham, by Ben ThurkillFirst overhead sign with I-73 North and I-74 West on US 220 North approaching future interchange with the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass.


Image of US 220 North ramp at closed ramp to future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass in Richmond County, by Ben ThurkillView of US 220 North at future split of ramps to the I-73 South/I-74 East Rockingham Bypass on the left and the open ramp to join I-73 North/I-74 West.


Image of overhead 1 mile advance sign for Dockery Rd/Haywood Cemetery Rd on I-73 North/I-74 West in Richmond County, by Ben Thurkill1-Mile advance sign for now open Dockery Road/Haywood Cemetery Road exit on US 220 North ramp to I-73 North/ I-74 West in Richmond County. The exit only arrow is over the correct lane. The far right lane ends at the merge with the future Bypass lanes before the exit.


Image of I-73 North/I-74 West and US 220 North reassurance markers after merge with US 220 North ramp in Richmond County, by Ben 
        ThurkillFirst set of reassurance markers for I-73 North and I-74 West after US 220 North ramp merge. The shield set up is different from markers further north which have the interstate shields on the same post.


Image of overhead signage at now open Dockery Rd/Haywood Cemetery Rd exit on I-73 North/I-74 West in Richmond County, by Ben ThurkillOverhead signage at now open Dockery Road/Haywood Cemetery Road exit on I-73 North/I-74 West.


Image of I-73 South/I-74 East and US 220 South trailblazers at on-ramp from Dockery Rd/Haywood Cemetery Rd interchange in Richmond 
        County, by Ben ThurkillTrailblazers at on-ramp to I-73 South/I-74 East/US 220 South at on-ramp from Dockery Road/Haywood Cemetery Road.


Image of 1-mile advance sign for US 220 (with erroneous Business banner) on I-73 North/I-74 West in Ellerbe, by Ben Thurkill1-Mile advance sign for US 220 Ellerbe exit. The Business banner is an error, US 220 without the banner is still signed on the remaining exit signs (1/2 mile advance seen in the distance) and there is no reference to Business US 220 on the signs at the end of the exit ramp.


Image of sign gantry for future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Business exit signs on I-73 South/I-74 East in Richmond County, by Ben ThurkillHeading southbound now, the empty gantry for what will be the 1-Mile Advance sign for the split of US 220 South from I-73/I-74 once the rest of the Bypass is completed.


Image of the last set of I-73 South/I-74 East reassurance markers south of Ellerbe, by Ben ThurkillThe last set of I-73 South/I-74 West reassurance markers just before the I-73 South Mile 23 marker.


Image of overhead sign for US 220 South on gantry for future US 220 South exit on I-73 South/I-74 East in Richmond County, by Ben 
        ThurkillUS 220 South sign on gantry that will hold the future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass/US 220 South exit signage.


Image of End I-73/I-74 trailblazers at start of future US 220 South ramp from I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass, by Ben ThurkillEnd I-73 and I-74 signs are placed at the start of the future US 220 South ramp. These signs will probably be here another 10 years.


Image of cleared path for future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass lanes from US 220 South flyover ramp, by Ben ThurkillView from the US 220 South ramp bridge over the future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass lanes showing preliminary grading. Future ramp from US 220 North to the Bypass seen in the distance.


Image of graded future lanes for I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass from US 220 South off-ramp, by Ben ThurkillLooking the other way from the US 220 ramp bridge shows grading for the future Bypass proceeding a short distance further to the south.


Image of truck rollover on US 220 South ramp bridge over future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass, by Ben ThurkillIt appears not everyone is familiar with the new US 220 South ramp. This truck overturned while apparently going too fast on the curve prior to the bridge over the future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass lanes.


Earlier photos taken on March 13, 2018 by Charles M. Kunz:

Image of new overhead signage at Haywood Cemetery Rd exit still under construction on I-73 North/I-74 West north of Rockingham, by 
        Charles M. KunzPhoto looking north at future Dockery Rd/Haywood Cemetery Rd exit on Future I-73 North/I-74 West showing ramp near completion. Exit is now open as of June 2018.


Photos taken on February 3, 2018 by AARoads Forum member Thing 342:

Image of US 220 roadway paralleling future I-73/74 freeway north of Rockingam, by Thing 342View heading north on US 220 using future frontage road along side future lanes of I-73 North and I-74 West still under construction with VMS sign in place.


Image of US 220 using future frontage road paralleling under construction lanes of I-73/74 north of Rockingham, by Thing 342Looking north on future frontage roads toward under construction interchange with Haywood Cemetery Road. Traffic transfers to new I-73/I-74 lanes just before exit.


Image of overhead signs placed at Haywood Cemetery Rd on Future I-73/I-74 north of RockinghamNew overhead signage with exit sign for Dockery Road/Haywood Cemetery Road covered over until ramp is completed. The I-73 and I-74 shields are uncovered with the freeway completed north to Ellerbe, despite the routes not officially extended to the segment as of yet.


Photos taken in June 2017 by David Johnson:

Image taken at northern end of I-73/I-74 Bypass construction zone near Ellerbe, by David JohnsonLooking south on US 220 at start of construction zone where traffic is shifted to the future parallel frontage road lanes.


Image taken showing view from US 220 South near Ellerbe of construction of Future I-73/I-74 Rocking Bypass lanes, from David JohnsonLooking south at construction of Future I-73/I-74 lanes between current US 220 Lanes/Future Frontage Roads.


Image of Future I-73/I-74 roadway under construction along US 220 North of Rockingham, by David JohnsonApproaching the future Haywood Cemetery Road exit and completed bridge over the Future I-73/I-74 lanes.


Image taken of I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass construction at future US 220 off-ramp north of Rockingham, from David JohnsonFurther down US 220 South looking at future Bypass lanes, graded, going straight and to the right of the current route and then curving away.


Image taken of future US 220 South bridge from I-73/I-74 Bypass under construction north of Rockingham, from David JohnsonView of future bridge taking US 220 traffic to and from I-73/I-74 from current US 220 South.


Image of southern end of I-73/I-74 Bypass construction zone on US 220 South north of Rockingham, from David JohnsonThe southern end of the work zone along US 220  heading towards Rockingham.


Photos taken in August 2016 by J. Austin Carter:

Image of I-73/74 Bypass construction from Sandy Ridge Church Rd north of Rockingham, by J. Austin CarterView of the future US 220 interchange construction area as seen from Sandy Ridge Church Road, of what will be part of the future I-73/74 Bypass south of US 220.


Image of new bridge for Sandy Ridge Church Rd over future I-73/74 Bypass north of Rockingham, by J. Austin CarterLooking from new Sandy Ridge Church Road bridge, not yet opened, over future I-73/I-74 Bypass.


Image from Blue Sky Drive of completed bridge for future US 220 South exit from the I-73/I-74 Bypass,
        photo by J. Austin CarterTaken in the median of US 220 looking south over the future US 220 interchange area with the nearly completed bridge that will take US 220 South from I-73/I-74 in the distance.


Image of future I-73/74 Bypass Roadbed taken from Harrington Road north of Rockingham, by J. Austin CarterView from Harrington Road looking north along future roadbed of I-73/I-74 Bypass south of US 220 (Harrington road is being realigned to meet US 220 further south of the interchange).


Image taken of new bridge over future I-73/&4 Bypass north of Rockingham, by J. Austin CarterView taken along new bridge over future I-73/I-74 Bypass south of US 220.


Image taken of construction along US 220 in vicinity of future Haywood Cemetery Rd interchange, by J. Austin CarterConstruction in the vicinity of Haywood Cemetery Road.


image of closeup of detour sign for Haywood Cemetery Road on US 220 North in future interchange construction area, by J. Austin CarterCloseup of detour sign for Haywood Cemetery Road which is closed while interchange is being constructed.


Image of center pier under construction in US 220 median for future Haywood Cemetery Road Bridge over I-73/I-74 north of Rockingham,
        photo by J. Austin CarterLooking north at bridge pier under construction in US 220 median for future Haywood Cemetery Rd Bridge over I-73/I-74.


Image of US 220 looking south showing progress in building frontage roads along future I-73/74, from J. Austin CarterLooking south on US 220 at northern end of construction zone showing completion of building the southbound frontage roads along path of future I-73/I-74 with US 220 traffic moved onto them so the upgrading of the existing lanes to interstate standards can start.


Image of construction along US 220 just south of Ellerbe upgrading the route to interstate standards, from J. Austin CarterCloser view of the work underway to upgrade US 220 to Interstate Standards.


Image of US 220 South with construction for future I-73/74 north of Rockingham. Photo by Tracy HammView along South US 220 earlier in 2016 showing progress in constructing the frontage roads and upgrading the existing lanes to interstate standards. Photo by Tracy Hamm, 2/26/16.


Image of US 220 highway near Rockingham in October 2005View of US 220 looking south toward Rockingham. This is 3 miles south of where the Ellerbe bypass highway will connect back with current US 220 and where they plan to upgrade the road to an interstate. There are many businesses and driveways along the route that will complicate matters. (October 2005)


Signing plans when the Bypass is completed11:

Cropped image of I-73/74 Rockingham Bypass Exit 22 Sign Plan





















Plan for Future Exit 22 Sign showing that US 220 will keep its current alignment, that there is no indication of an interstate business route, and that Wilmington is a control city for I-74. (12/21/13)

Excerpt of sign plans for US 220 interchange with future Rockingham Bypass, from NCDOT



















Above is the plan for the future signs along US 220 North where it will merge with I-73/I-74 traffic from the Rockingham Bypass. (12/21/13)

Sign plans also indicate an Exit 20 on the future Bypass for Cartledge Creek Road. (12/21/13) and for Blewitt Falls Rd (Exit 17). The Bypass will meet the US 74 Bypass just east of its current interchange with Business 74, the exit on the I-73/I-74 Bypass (Exit 15) will be both for US 74 West and Business 74 East. See I-73 Exit List. (5/7/16)

Here are some more plans, sent in December by site Contributor Strider. Here's on of the US 220 exit signs on the northbound Bypass:
Sign plan for US 220 South exit from future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass, from NCDOT




























Here's another of the signs that will be placed on US 220 North prior to the Bypass:
Image of sign plan for I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass from US 220 North, from NCDOT








































And here's the sign for the Cartledge Creek Road exit to be constructed with the next segment of the Bypass around 2028:
Image of sign plan for Cartledge Creek Rd exit sign on Future I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass, from NCDOT