South of NC 68, US 220 is mostly a two-lane roadway. As part of a project that will build the 'NC 68-US 220 Connector' north of Greensboro (Project No. R-2413, see Segment 3 below), NCDOT is upgrading the current highway to a four-lane freeway for about 4 miles between the NC 68 intersection and the Connector to be built just south of the Haw River. Work on this segment, Contract R-2413C, started in May 20121 (delayed from 2010) and has fallen significantly behind the project completion schedule. As of April 15, 2017 the project was listed as 74.4% complete, far behind a schedule that would have completed the route by December 27, 2016.2 To illustrate the slow progress rate, in July 2013, more than 3 1/2 years ago, the project was 21.5% complete.3 In August 2015, NCDOT finally admitted the project would not be completed on time and pushed completion back to June 19, 2017.2 In June 2016, the completion date was pushed back again to January 25, 2018.2 However, a news report in early April 2017 indicated that NCDOT hoped to open the route by October 2017, an NCDOT official indicated in August 2017 that the hopeful date was October 18.4 Much progress has been made in the past couple months though with the future NC 65 and US 158 off-ramps being opened to traffic (see photos below). Complicating factors was a decision by NCDOT to change the plans at the northern end of the project from a re-worked intersection with NC 68 that included a traffic signal to a more complicated flyover ramp for US 220 South to cross over NC 68. NCDOT held a public meeting to inform the public in January 2014 from which planners were to resubmit the design for the interchange.5 NCDOT then decided to let this as a separate project, Contract C203645 awarded on June 16, 2015. Construction started on Sept. 16, 2015 and, as of April 7, 2017 was 67.4% complete (this project is also going slow, it was supposed to be 94.2% complete by that time though).6 Despite the project being only 2/3 complete, enough work has been completed on the future I-73 South roadway that it, along with the new off-ramp to NC 68, was opened in May 2017 (see photos below). The project plans, released on May 19, 2015, revealed the following design for the new interchange (based on other contract documents, the number for the NC 68 exit will be 123, while the NC 65 exit will be 122):
Contributor Strider sent me these photos of the hard copy plans he has of future exit signs along this Segment, heading North to South:7
Plans for exit and gore signs for NC 68 interchange on I-73 South.
Plans for exit signs for US 158 and NC 65 along I-73/US 220 North. Since there is no exit to NC 68 South northbound, traffic is told to use NC 65.
Plans for US 158 Exit Sign, as noted in the plans, the current exit sign will not be replaced, just a new exit tab will be placed on top.
1/2 mile advance signage for US 220 exit on I-73 South near the Haw River, note I-73 pull through for Airport traffic.
Plans for signage at the US 220 exit, current US 220 traffic is using the future 2-lane off-ramp as the route for through traffic.
The NC 68 project was awarded on July 7, 2015 to Branch Highways Inc. out of Roanoke, VA for $14 million.8 The total cost for the entire project (right-of-way and construction) is now budgeted at around $223 million.9 Initially, the roadway was not to be built to Interstate standards, but only at a 60 MPH limited access highway. However, this changed when the Connector project to the south was advanced to be completed around the same time both segment are now to be signed as I-73, with a 65 MPH speed limit, when completed.10,11
The US 220 South ramp from I-73 South will be a flyover bridge that will go both over the Haw River and then over I-73 to its current alignment (for a link to the plans see Segment 3, below). Work to complete this flyover was completed during the fall of 2014 and US 220 traffic was rerouted onto it (see photos below). The US 220 project was to be mostly completed before work on the Connector to NC 68 was finished, however with the current delays, this might not happen since the Connector work is to be completed by April 2017. (For an NCDOT diagram of the entire project go to the Project page.)
US 220 South at Beginning of Construction Zone: Just South of NC 68 Intersection
US 220 South at NC 65: On
Future I-73 NB Roadway
US 220 North at US 158: On
Future I-73 SB Roadway at US 158 On-Ramp
US 220 North at Future I-73 South Interchange: On
Future US 220 South Ramp
Looking south on US 220 just prior to the Haw River showing opening of I-73 connector roadway to NC 68. There currently are no exit signs at the interchange, just trailblazers (on the left behind the 3rd orange barrel) as the case with the NC 65 interchange to the north.
View from US 220 South now shifted onto Future I-73 South lanes over NC 68 of overhead signage for new exit ramps opened for NC 68 and NC 65, exit tabs will be added later.
View on US 220 South now on Future I-73 South lanes between NC 68 and NC 65 showing NC 65 trailblazer temporarily marking the new off-ramp.
View from completed NC 65 bridge looking south showing US 220 traffic using Future I-73 Southbound lanes and completed on and off-ramps heading toward US 158.
View heading further south on US 220 between NC 65 and US 158 showing traffic using Future I-73 lanes next to completed sound barrier wall.
Now heading back northbound, traffic is now using the Future I-73 North bridge over US 158, with the exit ramps open the temporary signals have been removed from the wires ahead.
Further north on US 220 beyond US 158 at what was the shift of traffic to the original US 220 lanes, now shifted to the new Future I-73 South lanes while the old US 220 lanes are reconstructed for northbound traffic.
From US 220 North showing work starting on removing hill under former US 220 lanes to match the grade of the Future I-73 South lanes.
New NC 65/NC 68 South trailblazer marks temporary off-ramp from Future I-73 South lanes to newly opened NC 65 off-ramp from northbound lanes. To match the future exit sign, there should be a 'To' between the NC 65 and 68 shields. With the opening of the NC 68 South off-ramp there is no longer direct access to NC 68 from US 220 North.
Closer look at newly opened ramp to NC 65 from Future I-73 Northbound lanes from US 220 North.
Heading under the new NC 65 bridge on US 220 North using Future I-73 Southbound lanes.
Further north beyond NC 65 on US 220 showing work starting on creating Future I-73 Northbound lanes.
View approaching NC 68 from US 220 North now using Future I-73 Southbound lanes.
View from heading across new bridge over NC 68 that will carry Future I-73 Southbound lanes. Old US 220 to carry I-73 North traffic below.
View from end of NC 68 North approaching new bridge for Future I-73/US 220 South traffic with newly opened NC 68 ramp on left. Trailblazer for South US 220 has been removed on the right.
Now back on US 220 North beyond the NC 68 North on-ramp approaching the end of the construction zone. Perhaps some day I-73 will make it the 30 miles to Martinsville.
Heading back south, the view of US 220 traffic using the newly opened Future I-73 South lanes prior to the new NC 68 exit.
Looking east at current intersection of NC 68 with US 220 showing completed bridge for Future I-73/US 220 South traffic and ramp to left which will carry traffic to NC 68 South.
Looking south from NC 68 toward future I-73/US 220 roadway which will carry southbound lanes upon completion of new interchange.
About to travel under the completed Future I-73/US 220 South bridge prior to NC 68 North meeting US 220.
Looking south on current US 220 roadway paralleling new I-73/US 220 South lanes. This will become the northbound lanes merging with NC 68 traffic when interchange project is completed.
Looking south on current US 220 roadway just after the NC 68 intersection. Work is proceeding on building new southbound lanes on other side of guardrail.
Further south approaching existing distance sign, paving going on to the right of the orange barrels for new southbound lanes. Once these are completed traffic will shift over so hill in the distance can be graded down to match elevation of the new lanes.
Further south on current US 220 approaching NC 65, progress on the new southbound roadway here cannot be seen due to the concrete barriers. The northbound lanes here to will need to be rebuilt.
Some of the temporary signage on current US 220 South for NC 65. Though ramps are built, traffic from NC 65 uses traffic signals to enter US 220. (Photos of ramps below).
Heading south on US 220 toward the nearly completed NC 65 bridge over the future I-73/US 220 North lanes.
Now looking north at current NC 65 intersection with traffic signals managing access to US 220.
Looking west toward nearly completed NC 65 bridge over future I-73/US 220 lanes. Traffic uses future northbound on-ramp beyond the current construction.
Traffic on NC 65 West directed to use future on-ramp to I-73/US 220 North to access US 220 in both directions.
Looking south from top of future I-73 North off-ramp to NC 65. Ramp is not currently open to traffic.
Looking west from top of Future I-73 North off-ramp over nearly completed NC 65 bridge.
View of NC 65 Future On-ramp to I-73/US 220 North, now used by traffic also accessing NC 65.
Driving down the Future I-73/US 220 North on-ramp from NC 65 to access US 220 South.
View at the end of the Future I-73/US 220 North ramp, which is blocked off for northbound traffic which must take a right at the temporary traffic lights.
Another view of the open NC 65 bridge over Future I-73/US 220 work is continuing in the future south lanes.
Looking northbound at approach to NC 65 bridge and unopened future off-ramp from I-73/US 220.
View Northbound farther from NC 65 showing work in future southbound lanes continuing and beginning of sound barrier walls, see below for more.
Still northbound, here is the one Future I-73 sign along this segment of US 220.
View looking south again beyond NC 65 on US 220 South showing traffic using future northbound lanes and former left turn lane for NC 65 blocked off.
Looking from US 220 South to new sound barrier walls having been placed along Future I-73/US 220 South lanes.
The sound barrier walls continue on approaching the US 158 interchange.
Reversing direction and looking at the installed sound barriers from US 220 North.
View looking north from bottom of hill after US 158 interchange showing progress in completing the Future I-73/US 220 South lanes.
Heading back south on US 220 approaching US 158 interchange showing work continuing on Future I-73 South lanes.
Approaching US 158 US 220 traffic is switched from completed Future I-73 North to I-73 South lanes to go over completed segment of US 158 bridge.
Both directions of US 220 traffic using Future I-73 South bridge over US 158. Future Northbound bridge appears near completion.
While South US 220 traffic can use completed US 158 off-ramp, northbound traffic must use connection from future South on-ramp to connect to US 220 North. Truck on the right is using the completed on-ramp.
Traffic on US 158 East is directed via this trailblazer to Future I-73 South on-ramp to connect to US 220.
Looking up completed on-ramp that will take traffic to I-73/US 220 South when work on the interchange is completed.
Another look at completed Future I-73 South bridge over US 158 beyond on and off-ramps.
View of traffic signals placed on US 158 at location of Future I-73 South on and off-ramps.
View from temporary turn around to US 220 North of end of completed South on-ramp from US 158 to US 220 and Future I-73 South.
Looking south toward Haw River from just beyond US 158 exit shows progress in completing southern end of segment with potential cross over for future I-73/US 220 North traffic when Segment 3 opens in April.
Continuing south, the Future I-73/US 220 South interchange comes into view. Guardrail work along the Future I-73 lanes appears completed.
Getting closer to the interchange with view of completed Haw River bridges and work proceeding to add median guardrails to the Future I-73 South lanes.
Closer view of bridges and interchange shows lane markings now placed on Future I-73 North lanes.
US 220 traffic departs on Future off-ramp from I-73 South. Road closed barriers and orange barrels should not be there for too much longer.
Looking north toward the end of NC 68 showing completed future I-73/US 220 South bridge over roadway and future NC 68 South off-ramp.
View from US 220 South approaching current NC 68 intersection showing nearly completed ramp towards the I-73/US 220 flyover bridge.
Closer view of new I-73/US 220 South ramp bridge over NC 68 showing progress in completing landscaping and guardrail work.
View from future northbound lanes looking south toward future US 158 interchange showing progress in paving future I-73 southbound lanes now flanked by sound walls.
View from US 220 South closer to US 158 showing progress in completing the connection between the new southbound lanes and the existing roadway.
View further south on US 220 approaching the future I-73 interchange showing median guardrails are being installed but that line painting is still needed for future northbound lanes.
View from US 220 North on Future I-73 Southbound lanes facing toward the US 158 interchange showing the paved Future I-73 Northbound lanes awaiting lane striping.
View from US 220 North showing end of completed I-73 Southbound lanes and traffic shifting to existing US 220 roadway while remaining south I-73 lanes are constructed.
Looking at paving taking place for Future I-73 South lanes from US 220 North. I-73 North lanes will use existing US 220 roadbed but will need to be rebuilt to Interstate standards after southbound lanes are completed and traffic shifted over.
View from US 220 North of sound walls being built along Future I-73 Southbound lanes approaching interchange with NC 68.
Looking north along US 220 approaching the future NC 68 interchange, and what will be the temporary end of I-73 North showing work continuing on building future I-73 South lanes and completed new bridge over NC 68.
Closer view of completed bridge that will take I-73/US 220 South over NC 68.
Looking south on US 220 after NC 68 intersection showing work grading future I-73 South lanes, complicated by need to cut down small hill seen in the distance.
At the southern end of the segment, looking south on the completed I-73 southbound lanes approaching the future I-73/US 220 interchange by the Haw River.
A closer look at the interchange, showing most of the work is complete, the only thing needed are to paint the northbound lanes, re-stripe the south lanes, and add exit signage.
View from US 220 North facing facing the US 158 interchange showing that the I-73 Northbound lanes are complete and paved. The off ramp to US 158 is also paved (out of frame).
View continuing north on US 220 past US 158 showing the southbound lanes of I-73 being prepared to be paved. Farther north near the NC 65 bridge, the road is paved. (NC 65 bridge is still not open despite it being fully paved).
Closer look on US 220 North of US 158 showing the southbound I-73 lanes being prepared for pavement.
On US 220 North approaching future NC 68 interchange. In the distance, the future I-73 southbound lanes are being paved. However, to the immediate left beyond the jersey barrier the road is not even graded yet.
View of complete bridge at the NC 68 interchange that will take I-73/US 220 traffic over NC 68.
Looking south on US 220 toward the NC 68 interchange showing that US 220 is now the through route. The approaches to the bridge for Future I-73 South are still under construction.
Looking south at the future I-73/US 220 interchange and the bridges over the Haw River showing that the future lanes are paved and ready for a line painting.
View from US 220 North facing I-73 north partial interchange (Exit 119), the northbound lanes of US 220 are already paved while the I-73 lanes are in process of being paved as well.
View driving further north on US 220 near US 158 interchange (Exit 120). You can see I-73 northbound lanes are in process of being paved.
Heading north past the US 158 interchange, showing the future southbound lanes are being paved.
Here's a closer look past the US 158 interchange, they finally have begun doing work on the future I-73 southbound lanes.
Driving south on US 220, approaching the future I-73/US 220/NC 68 interchange (Exit 123), the bridge is halfway complete and the roadway approaches to the bridge is already graded.
A closer look at the future I-73/US 220/NC 68 interchange (Exit 123) showing the graded future roadway and the future I-73 bridge.
At the other end of the project, looking at the Future I-73/US 220 interchange (Exit 119). You can see the pavement on US 220 north coming down to I-73, and the I-73 lanes are being paved.
Bridge supports being placed at site of future NC 68/I-73 Interchange.
Looking South along US 220 just after Future NC 65 interchange showing work recently re-started on grading future roadway.
Looking South prior to Future US 220/I-73 partial interchange showing indications that crews are preparing to pave the highway.
Photos Taken in June 2016:
Close look at new bridge being constructed to take traffic on Deboe Road over future I-73 roadway looking south.
View in distance of construction progress at future I-73 interchange with NC 68.
View from US 220 North approaching the future I-73 interchange with the NC 68-US 220 Connector, the future northbound on-ramp has not been completed.
View across current US 220 using future I-73 South off-ramp showing grading of future I-73 lanes to the south of the bridge.
Looking south toward Haw River and progress in constructing the future I-73/US 220 South interchange beyond. Though the bridges over the Haw River are complete, much work remains in constructing the roadbed for I-73.
View along northbound US 220 just prior to current US 158 interchange showing progress in building new northbound lanes to the right.
View looking along US 158 East toward completed Future I-73 bridges over US 158 and showing further construction needed to complete new US 158 westbound roadway.
Looking north along US 220 north toward NC 65 exit showing still incomplete roadbed for future I-73 Southbound lanes.
Future I-73 sign recently put up between US 158 and NC 65 exits along US 220 North. Probably should be Future I-73 Corridor since similar signs appear on completed freeways.
View of completed NC 65 interchange bridge over US 220 and Future I-73 Northbound Lanes.
View on US 220 North approaching NC 68 intersection showing progress in building new interchange at northern end of I-73.
View of new lanes being added just north of current NC 68/US 220 intersection to accommodate new interchange.
View looking south from access road parallel to US 220 North at progress in constructing new I-73 interchange with NC 68.
Starting on US 220 North, approaching the future interchange with I-73 near the Haw River, future NB lanes being paved, traffic shifting to new lanes in distance.
Looking from a new frontage road being built along US 220 South, this is the completed US 220 South bridge over the Future I-73 that both directions of US 220 are currently using.
View of completed future I-73 South bridge over the Haw River and future I-73 North lanes under construction, from future NB frontage road.
Closer view of the future I-73 Northbound lanes under construction near the Haw River.
View heading north on US 220 showing traffic using the completed future I-73 Southbound lanes.
Unique view looking forward and back of US 220 traffic about to cross future I-73 southbound bridge with future I-73 lanes under construction in the distance.
Heading further north on US 220 using the future I-73 Southbound lanes approaching the US 158 interchange.
Further north on US 220 near the US 158 interchange, the gas station to the right is currently cut off from US 220, but an access road is being built to connect it to the new parallel frontage road that ends just before the US 158 off-ramp.
US 220 traffic crossing over US 158 on future I-73 Southbound bridge. The future northbound span is under construction after the original US 220 bridge was demolished.
US 220 traffic switches to use the future I-73 Northbound lanes after the US 158 interchange.
Approaching the future NC 65 interchange on US 220 North. The off-ramp is paved but not open. The future NC 65 bridge under construction can be seen in the distance.
Now heading south on US 220 here's the view of construction progress, slowed by design changes, just south of the NC 68 intersection.
View of future NC 65 bridge under construction from US 220 South. The intersection is currently controlled by 2 traffic lights, the first just behind the photo and the second beyond the bridge and seen in the photo above.
View along US 220 South between NC 65 and US 158 using future I-73 northbound lanes and future southbound lanes being graded.
US 220 South at the US 158 interchange. The southbound ramp is complete and open to traffic, drivers wanting to access US 158 northbound must turn left and yield at the southbound ramp.
US 220 South descending toward the Haw River with the future I-73 South/US 220 interchange bridges in the distance.
Crossing the recently opened future I-73 South, US 220 off-ramp bridge over the Haw River temporarily carrying US 220 traffic.
View of US 220 traffic crossing newly opened future US 220 South bridge over the future I-73 (US 220-NC 68 Connector) freeway. Though work on the Connector has started, nothing has started at this end yet.
US 220 traffic traveling through I-73 construction site north of Greensboro.
Progress on constructing future Haw River bridges for I-73.
Below are photos taken in December 2012 and April 2013 (Courtesy of Strider):
This photo shows construction progress on the future I-73 South bridge across the Haw River from US 220 North. (4/3/13)
This photo shows progress clearing the path for I-73 from US 220 North across the Haw River from the future I-73 interchange. (4/3/13)
This photo shows progress clearing the future I-73 roadbed between the future US 220 interchange and US 158. (4/3/13)
This photo shows progress clearing the future I-73 South road bed a mile south the US 158 interchange on US 220 North. (4/3/13)
This photo shows clearing the I-73 road bed approaching the current US 220 interchange with US 158. (4/3/13)
This photo shows progress clearing areas near the future I-73 interchange for US 158 from US 220 North. (4/3/13)
This photo shows the future I-73 freeway road bed from US 220 South approaching the location of the future bridge across the Haw River. (4/3/13)
This photo shows the future I-73 South ramp that will use the future bridge over the Haw River. (4/3/13)
This photo shows the future I-73 South road bed (the US 220 South ramp will go across this roadway via future bridge). (12/9/12)
View showing the proposed US 220/ I-73 bridges across the Haw River. The current US 220 will apparently become a part of frontage road once this construction is all done. US 220 will be moved on the new lanes (with I-73). (12/9/12)
This picture shows the visible future US 220 South ramp on the far right, where it will curve to the right, then left to across the future I-73 roadbed, then back to its current alignment. The construction on this section really sped up in the last couple months. (12/9/12)
This photo was taken near the US 158 interchange. Not much is going on here except the blasting and dragging of the rocks to make a room for the roadbed. There are a few houses behind the construction trucks. What they will do about these houses once the road is open to traffic is unknown. (12/9/12)
Progress in clearing land near the future US 158 interchange. (12/9/12)
Another view of progress in clearing the future roadbed near the US 158 interchange. (12/9/12)
This picture was taken at the US 158 interchange. Not much is going on there either, except clearing of the trees. (12/9/12)
This is looking at US 220 North, at the bottom of the hill is the Haw River. Somewhere between the green sign in the distance and the River is supposedly where the NC68-US 220 Connector will tie into US 220. North of there the road will be upgraded to a freeway with a 60 mph design speed.
The existing interchange for US 158, Stokesdale, Winston-Salem. The interchange will be rebuilt to accomodate a modern four lane interstate.
Going north the next interchange will be with NC 65, Stokesdale, Reidsville. This is currently an at-grade intersection.
This is the view of US 220 North approaching the NC 68 intersection. Going south, currently NC 68 continues straight as a 4-lane highway while US 220 traffic has to make a left turn across NC 68 traffic. This will initially be rebuilt so that US 220 (I-73) will be the primary roadway and there will be a signalized intersection to allow NC 68 North traffic to turn onto US 220. (2/09)
NCDOT also has another contract (R-2309) to widen US 220 south of the Connector to Horsepen Creek Road that is going on at the same time as the widening north of the Connector. This southern part will be constructed to expressway standards and have a 45 MPH speed limit. For a look at the highway section to be widened see photos below. Many area residents objected to this planned widening feeling that it is unnecessarily wide and costly, especially since the road already goes through several residential areas and crosses lakes that are currently part of Greensboro's water supply. An NCDOT spokesman insisted the widening is necessary because US 220 is one of North Carolina's Strategic Highway Corridors.10 The statement though is wrong, currently the corridor applies only to where US 220 is to become I-73. Since I-73 is not using this part of US 220, but rather the Connector (see a fuller discussion on the I-73 Segment 4 page) it seems likely that less traffic, and definitely fewer trucks, will use this part of US 220 than NCDOT's estimates show. Local citizens efforts to press NCDOT for a more reasonable solution seem not to have been successful.13
The view of US 220 North at the current end of the widened 4-lane section. The rest of the route to the Connector is to be widened as well, if NCDOT does not change its mind in response to citizen concerns. As you can see in the distance, several new traffic signals have already been added to the highway.
Another view of the current US 220 North as it travels through the Cape Fear River Basin and over several lakes used as Greensboro's water supply.