Where: NC 68-US 220 Connector from US 220 near Haw River in Summerfield, Southwest to NC 68 North of Greensboro then South to "I-73 Connector"
Length: 7.0 Miles
Needed: Construct New Freeway, Upgrade NC 68
Complete - Opening Date: May 19, 2017
This 8 mile segment of I-73 was opened on May 19, 2017 after 3 years of construction. It takes traffic from NC 68 near the PTI International Airport to US 220 near the Haw River. Originally dubbed the 'NC 68-US 220 Connector' when first proposed in the 1990s, this segment will be the first to only be signed as Interstate 73 without any concurrent routes. Apparently, the FHWA allowed NCDOT to sign the segment as I-73 despite it's current lack of connection to the rest of the interstate, due to the short distance and short period of time (until July 2017) it will be separated from the rest of the route (See I-73 Segment 4). I-73 South traffic will be detoured along the route set up after Bryan Blvd. west of the PTI Airport was closed to help complete I-73 construction, NC 68 South to West Market Street east to West Friendly Avenue to the Greensboro Loop. It is unknown whether I-73 South shields will now accompany the detour signs.
On April 8, 2014, NCDOT announced it had awarded the design-build contract to build I-73 from Bryan Blvd. at the PTI Airport northward to US 220 near Haw River (Segment 2, above) to the joint venture of Flatiron Constructors and Blythe Development Co.1 This contract (C203433) combines the original US 220-NC 68 Connector contract, TIP Project R-2413, Parts A and B, with the new I-73 Connector contract, TIP Project I-5110. The US 220-NC 68 Connector project will build a four-lane freeway with a 70 MPH design speed between US 220 from just south of its crossing of the Haw River in Summerfield to just north of where the current NC 68 freeway begins north of Greensboro. The I-73 Connector will take I-73 from NC 68 to the already upgrade Bryan Blvd. at the PTI Airport interchange (I-73 will be built on both sides of existing NC 68 between the two projects). Construction of the US 220-NC 68 Connector, originally set to start in 2002, had been delayed several times due to legal challenges from the city and residents of Summerfield that were first heard in 1999 and then by NCDOT's recent financial difficulties. The lawsuits aimed at getting NCDOT to perform more environmental studies and change some of the routing of the highway. The original construction plan required 75 residences and businesses to be relocated.2 By early 2002, the city had conceded that I-73 was going to be built and hired a consultant to draft a development plan for where the Interstate will have an interchange with NC 150.3
The I-73 Connector project was only initiated after the route for I-73 through the Greensboro area was settled. It was decided that I-73 between the PTI Airport interchange and NC 68 should be built on a new location north of the existing Bryan Blvd. The contract would include building a new taxiway bridge for the airport over the new freeway. The combined contract started in May 2014 with the winning bid indicated to be $176.6 million.4 Both connectors will be built to Interstate standards, with interchanges with NC 68 and for NC 150 in Summerfield. The eastern end at US 220 will feature a flyover ramp for I-73 North's connection with 220. I-73 South will also use a flyover ramp to go over and parallel NC 68 South for about 1/2 mile.5 After this 1/2 mile, I-73 will then be routed east to meet Bryan Blvd. on a new route currently called the 'I-73 Connector' (see Segment 4).6 The contractor started hauling construction materials to the project corridor in August 2014.7 Being slightly ahead of the planned construction schedule, NCDOT announced in early 2016 that they planned to open the route, even if the landscaping around it is not entirely completed, by December 2016.8 However, in December 2016, a news report stated that NCDOT was not planning to open the entire segment from the PTI Airport to US 220 until the 'I-73 Connector' segment (see I-73 Segment 4) was completed, which they said would be in May 2017. NCDOT then reversed course yet again and said the route would open by itself, first in late April, then in mid-May 2017.9
For a link to images of the plans for this segment go the Sure, Why Not Blog article on the NC 68-US 220 Connector.
Most Recent Photo taken on October 22, 2017 by Strider approaching US 220 in Summerfield:
Approaching US 220 South ramp bridge and merge with US 220 North. I-73 still ends here, currently there is no new I-73 or exit signage on the nearly completed US 220 North to NC 68.
Earlier photos, taken by Strider on July 3, 2017:
View of southern end of Segment 3 after opening of I-73 section to the south to PTI Airport in July 2017.
Previous Photos, Taken on May 19, 2017
View on NC 68 North of overhead sign directing traffic onto the recently opened I-73 North ramp.
View now on ramp from NC 68 North accessing the recently opened I-73 North roadway.
Now leaving the NC 68 North ramp onto I-73 North.
The first I-73 North reassurance marker, unlike most others, not accompanied by another route shield.
A closer view of the I-73 sign.
One of two destination mileage signs northbound after each exit on newly opened I-73 North, both have mileage to Martinsville.
Heading north toward the Alcorn Road bridge on the recently opened I-73.
Heading further north toward the Bunch Road bridge on I-73 North.
Further north approaching the Bunch Road bridge on I-73 North.
The 2-Mile Advance sign for the NC 150 exit on I-73 North beyond the Bunch Road bridge.
Now about to head across bridge over Reedy Fork Creek on I-73 North beyond Milepost 115.
Now approaching the 1 Mile Advance sign for the NC 150 exit just in front of the Broadbank Road bridge.
Approaching the NC 150 exit on I-73 North, though Exit 116, the NC 150 sign being behind Milepost 116.5. The bridge is closer to Mile 117.
Beyond NC 150 is the second destination mileage sign, 6 miles from the first, with the distance to Madison and Mayodan substituted for Summerfield.
View approaching the current end of I-73 North at US 220 (the bridge is carrying US 220 South traffic). The last milepost is 118.5, the merge with US 220 is about Mile 118.8. Assuming the bridge at NC 68 is around Mile 111.7 this means this new section is around 7 miles in length, not the 6 stated in NCDOT press releases.
Now turning around. View at dusk of start of I-73 South at the US 220 off-ramp. There are not any exit signs just trailblazers for US 220 (behind the photo) on the right and I-73 and NC 68 on the left (in the reflection glare).
Further south on I-73 going under the US 220 South overpass that served both directions of traffic prior to the I-73 opening.
The first sign on the new southbound I-73 is the 1-Mile Advance for the NC 150 exit.
The second NC 150 exit southbound is the 1/2 Mile Advance sign just ahead of the Deboe Road bridge.
Now the NC 150 exit sign approaching the interchange.
View along NC 150 East at the newly opened off-ramp to I-73 South with appropriate trailblazers.
A closeup of the South I-73 reassurance marker beyond the NC 150 exit.
The one destination mileage sign southbound which has distances to the PTI Airport and I-40 as well as Asheboro. Since this is near Milepost 115 the distance to the Airport (Exit 109) looks fine, though I-40 is Exit 103, so it doesn't quite match.
View now approaching the bridge over Reedy Fork Creek heading South.
Now approaching the 2-Mile Advance sign for the NC 68 North exit and the current end of this section of I-73 South (signified by the temporary All Traffic Exit signs beyond).
Now the 1-Mile Advance sign just prior to the Alcorn Road bridge.
Here are the overhead signs approaching the NC 68 exit, though the sign only indicates NC 68 North, traffic can access both directions. The text is to differentiate it from the NC 68 South exit (sign covered over) a mile ahead where I-73 will turn toward the airport.
A closer look at the overhead signs. The remaining section of I-73 to the Airport is to be completed in July.
For NCDOT construction photos of the completed but unopened route, check out NCDOT's I-73 New Flickr Page
Looking south from Alcorn Road bridge toward NC 68 showing lane striping and landscaping largely completed.
Looking now north from Alcorn Road bridge towards NC 150 showing work largely completed in this direction also, including the placement of mile markers (in the distance toward the curve).
Looking north now from Bunch Road showing roadway basically complete with the exception of some landscaping work.
Looking south from the Bunch Road bridge showing similar progress in lane striping and landscaping.
Now the view north from Brookbank Road bridge showing lane striping complete and landscaping largely completed.
Looking south from Brookbank Road bridge toward the Reedy Fork Creek bridges showing similar completion of lane striping and landscaping.
Looking south (through the mist) from Deboe Road bridge toward the NC 150 interchange showing lane striping and landscaping largely completed here as well.
Looking north from the Deboe Road bridge (also in the mist) showing lane striping and landscaping largely completed.
Looking south from Deboe Rd bridge toward NC 150 interchange showing final paving is now underway.
A closer look toward the NC 150 interchange showing exit and Exit 116 gore sign installed.
Now looking north from Deboe Rd bridge toward US 220 interchange showing final paving is now underway and distance sign and guardrails installed.
Looking closer north at paving and landscaping work underway in median and 1 Mile Advance sign for NC 150 exit installed along future I-73 South lanes.
View of completed Deboe Rd bridge itself over Future I-73 North lanes.
Looking south down future on-ramp to I-73 South from NC 150 in Summerfield showing final work, including setting sign posts is now underway.
A closer look south down the NC 150 off-ramp showing installation of NC 150 exit sign northbound and landscaping work now underway.
Now looking south from NC 150 bridge showing final paving is now underway on Future I-73 South lanes.
View west on NC 150 bridge showing final work is now underway including placing posts for future ramp signage.
Looking back north toward Deboe Rd bridge from NC 150 bridge showing installed signage for exit on Future I-73 lanes.
Looking east on NC 150 bridge showing traffic signals and sign posts installed for future ramps to and from I-73 North.
Looking closer at future I-73 North on-ramp from NC 150 showing Road Closed barrier is not very effective in blocking access to roadway. I did not test whether driving just down the ramp could be considered 'local traffic.'
Looking east at the intersection of the Future I-73 North on-ramp and NC 150 south showing more sign posts and that final median work is now underway. To the left is work being started on a future shopping center to be built at the interchange.
Looking across NC 150 at Future I-73 North on-Ramp showing landscaping work now underway.
Looking back west along NC 150 bridge showing median barrier separating future turn lanes for I-73 North from westbound traffic.
Looking north from NC 150 bridge showing final paving work is now underway southbound and future lane markings have been posted northbound.
Looking west at the end of the NC 150 Rd bridge showing future left turn lanes for I-73 South awaiting final lane striping and posts awaiting route signs.
Looking closer at the west at the end of the NC 150 Rd bridge and future left turn lanes for I-73 South, traffic signals wrapped awaiting activation.
View of the Brookbank Road bridge over Future I-73 looking west.
Looking south from Brookbank Road bridge showing final paving operations being performed in southbound lanes while markings for future northbound line striping appear in northbound lanes (and construction vehicles using the road).
Looking farther south from the Brookbank Road bridge showing work nearing completion near the bridges over Reedy Creek.
Another view south of Brookbank Road showing construction vehicles using the southbound roadway.
Now looking north from the Brookbank Road bridge showing final paving for I-73 South lanes and installation of signage, median guide rails and guardrails.
Looking further north from Brookbank Road bridge showing efforts at landscaping the I-73 median and completion of drainage work.
Looking even further north from the bridge shows the installation of a NC 150 exit sign.
The new alignment of Brookbank Road required quite a bit of re-landscaping to bring the road up to the level of the bridge. Here is a view to the east of the bridge showing the amount of fill that was needed.
Moving further south to the Bunch Road bridge, view looking south toward the NC 68 interchange with southbound lanes awaiting final lane striping and northbound lanes final paving.
Looking further south toward installed 2-Miles Advance sign for NC 68 North exit to Oak Ridge.
Now looking north from Bunch Road showing I-73 South awaiting final lane striping and the NC 68 2-Miles Advance sign and VMS sign installed o I-73 North.
Looking closer north of Bunch Road showing construction workers completing drainage work along the future South I-73 lanes.
Lastly, further south at Alcorn Road, looking south of the bridge towards the NC 68 North interchange. Lane striping has been completed in the southbound I-73 lanes.
A closeup look at the Alcorn Road bridge over the Future I-73 lanes showing the completed lane striping southbound and the breakdown lane painted northbound.
Now looking north of the Alcorn Road bridge showing completed southbound lane striping and installed 1-Mile advance sign for the NC 68 North exit.
A closeup look from the Alcorn Road bridge north showing installed guardrails, median guide rails and southbound lane striping.
View looking south from Bunch Road bridge showing progress in landscaping area and installation of sign for NC 68 North exit.
Closer look at new exit sign installed for NC 68 exit south of Bunch Road.
Looking north from Bunch Road Bridge showing final pavement in place and the addition of a NC 150 2 miles exit sign in addition to a VMS display.
Looking south from Brookbank Road bridge showing progress in landscaping, guardrail installation and the back of a new NC 150 exit sign.
Closer view from same spot by Brookbank Rd showing completed bridges in distance over Reedy Fork Creek.
Looking north from Brookbank Road showing progress in completing landscaping and installing signing and median guide rails.
Closer view north of Brookbank Road showing work on installation of guardrails.
Looking south on I-73 from future NC 150 interchange showing progress in installing signs and landscaping area.
Looking north from Deboe Road bridge showing work to complete I-73 freeway to US 220 continuing.
Extreme zoom shot from Deboe Road of future US 220 South interchange with I-73, including a placed exit sign.
View of newly installed destination distance sign along Future I-73 North lanes, included is mileage to Martinsville.
Newer photo taken on February 19, looking north from Bunch Road bridge showing final paving efforts now underway.
Another new photo, looking south from Bunch Road showing paving work being completed, once work here is done the future I-73 lanes will be paved from NC 68 north to US 158.
Taken the first week of February, view looking south from US 220 South bridge at future I-73 interchange showing progress in completing work on this section of the roadway, sign supports can be seen if you look hard beyond the distant northbound roadway.
Looking back north toward US 220 from the Deboe Road bridge shows progress in final paving of the I-73 lanes and supports placed for future southbound signage.
View looking south from Deboe Road bridge showing work being made on landscaping around future I-73 lanes.
Now looking north from the future NC 150 interchange back toward Deboe Road showing progress in paving the roadway and finishing needed landscaping.
Now looking south from the new NC 150 bridge showing progress in paving and landscaping the roadway toward Brookbank Rd. Future exit ramps to and from NC 150 can be seen in distance.
Looking north from Brookbank Road bridge showing final paving having started and some landscaping work done.
Looking south now from the Brookbank Road bridge showing further progress in paving and the installation of sign supports for a NC 150 exit sign northbound.
Now looking now north from Bunch Road bridge showing progress in completing paving in this area as well as the beginning of work installing drainage culverts. The support structure for a future Variable Message Sign can be seen in the distance.
View looking south from Bunch Road toward Alcorn Road finally showing work starting on paving this previously unpaved section of the I-73 roadway.
View from US 220 South bridge of I-73 lanes receiving final paving just south of future interchange.
View from Deboe Road looking north back to US 220 showing the Future I-73 lanes being new paved.
View looking south from Deboe Road toward NC 150 showing progress in installing drainage basins and painting the future I-73 lanes.
Looking south along the future ramp from NC 150 to I-73 South showing that the future I-73 roadway has been graded and is awaiting paving.
View looking east from the future I-73 South on-ramp from NC 150 showing the installation of traffic lights, covered, for the future interchange.
Looking northward from the new Brookbank Rd. bridge back toward NC 150, showing progress in paving making its way south, while grading appears to be complete by the opened bridge.
Looking now south from Brookbank Road toward Reedy Fork Creek bridges showing that grading appears to be nearly completed.
Looking south from Bunch Road toward Alcorn Road showing final stages of initial clearing of site completed in early November, grading work has since been completed.
Now looking northward from the Bunch Road bridge, work proceeding in grading the Future I-73 roadway in early November, grading work has since been completed here as well.
Looking south at the Alcorn Road overpass showing completion of paving operations and the start of guardrail installation.
Looking northward from Alcorn Road back toward Bunch Road, it appears both guardrails and median guide rails have been installed and work to install southbound signage has begun.
View from NC 150 west approaching the I-73 interchange showing traffic is being routed onto the new alignment crossing the bridge. Meanwhile, the old alignment is being being demolished for the future I-73 lanes.
The view from a side road along NC 150 East, showing the Future I-73 interchange from the other direction, with traffic using the new bridge.
View from NC 150 East, approaching the completed bridge over I-73. They are paving the exit ramps and some areas on I-73 near the bridge (not pictured).
Looking across to the other side of the newly opened bridge over the future I-73 roadway on NC 150 in Summerfield.
View looking south from the new alignment of Brookbank Rd near the bridge, showing the old alignment being taken out for the I-73 lanes. In the distance are the nearly completed Reddy Fork Creek bridges.
Looking north on the new Brookbank Rd. bridge, showing progress in paving the I-73 lanes back towards NC 150. (The bridge was opened to traffic shortly after the photo was taken.)
Looking south from the US 220 interchange bridge over the future I-73 roadway, showing the lanes are now being graded and first pavement has been put on.
Looking north of the Deboe Rd. Bridge, both I-73 roadways are now graded. The southbound lanes are being prepared to be paved.
Looking south from Deboe Rd. (facing NC 150 bridge), showing both I-73 roadways being graded and prepared to be paved, with the paving of the southbound lanes starting.
Looking along NC 150 West approaching the future I-73 interchange showing the future NC 150 alignment ready to be paved heading slightly to the right of the current route.
A view of the future I-73 interchange heading east on NC 150. The roadway is getting ready to be paved.
Looking toward NC 150 from the Future I-73 south off-ramp. Traffic lights are being set to control the intersection, allowing for left turns for NC 150 traffic entering I-73.
View of the future NC 150 bridge from the existing roadway. Future I-73 lanes below are still only graded.
View from Brookbank Road looking west facing I-73 bridge. The future roadway that veers straight to the bridge is ready to be paved.
View showing completed Brookbank Road bridge. Further north you can see the I-73 lanes being paved back towards the NC 150 interchange.
Looking from on Brookbank Road bridge facing south showing the Reddy Fork Creek Bridges. The Southbound bridge only need parapets to be put on each side of the bridge, while the northbound bridge is around 3/4 complete.
Looking north from the Deboe Road overpass, showing I-73 lanes being graded. The trucks are carrying dirt to just near the US 220 interchange to fill up a small valley between Deboe Road and the US 220 bridge.
Here's the view south from the Deboe Road bridge showing progress in grading toward the NC 150 interchange.
From Deboe Road looking north toward the US 220 South bridge over the future I-73 lanes in the distance.
View of NC 150 near the future I-73 interchange. The ramps for the interchange are being graded.
View of NC 150 bridge over future I-73, the overpass is halfway done. The ramps on the other side have also been graded (not pictured).
Future I-73 at the Brookbank Road overpass. The overpass is now 1/2 complete. The approaches to the bridge are already graded. You can also see I-73 lanes are being paved in the distance.
I-73 lanes facing south from Brookbank Road. The southbound bridge is nearly complete, but work has yet to start on the overpass for northbound lanes. You you also see the grading for both north and southbound lanes prior to the bridge.
The completed Bunch road overpass and I-73. The approaches to the bridge are already paved. The bridge was opened to traffic the next week.
View from US 220 South overpass, facing I-73 lanes to the south, showing the lanes are being paved, dirt is also being taken to fill a small valley beyond.
A closer view of the image above showing the progress in the preliminary paving of the future I-73 lanes.
Looking south from Bunch Rd. The bridge is behind the photo, but you can see the pavement far away, mostly graded roadway stops short of where photo taken until the bridge is finished.
The Bunch Rd. overpass over I-73, nearly finished except for the bridge parapets. The approach roads to the new overpass are already graded (not paved yet).
Future I-73 Roadbed at Brookbank Rd. facing north. They have not started building the overpass (the approach roads are already graded, as are the I-73 lanes).
Facing south along I-73 Roadbed from Brookbank Rd. The southbound bridge over Reddy Fork River near completion in distance, work at the northbound bridge has not started.
View at Future NC 150 interchange (Exit 116) of work on building the overpass over I-73 looking north. The on and off ramps are already graded (not paved). The completed Deboe Rd. Bridge is seen in the distance.
I-73 Roadbed at Future NC 150 interchange facing south with I-73 roadbed being graded heading towards Brookbank Rd.
View from completed Deboe Rd. bridge, facing south towards NC 150 showing grading progress on I-73 roadbed, NC 150 bridge construction in distance.
View from completed Deboe Rd. Bridge facing north with work started on removing the detour alignment that is no longer needed. The roadbed curves to the left in the distance towards the future US 220 interchange.
Now looking west along completed Alcorn Road bridge and connecting roadway over future I-73.
View of future I-73/NC 150 interchange area looking north showing clearing and early grading in the area.
Another view of the NC 150 interchange area, looking south along the future I-73 roadway.
View along future I-73 roadbed south of Alcorn Rd bridge, headed toward NC 68.
Almost complete Alcorn Road bridge crosses wet and muddy future I-73 roadbed between NC 68 and NC 150.
View of center support of future Bunch Rd bridge over I-73, looking north toward NC 150.
Looking south across Bunch Road showing clearing and grading of future I-73 roadway heading back toward Alcorn Rd.
View from NC 150 at site of future I-73 interchange. Grading is for new section of road needed to take traffic around future bridge construction.
Looking north from NC 150 showing progress in grading I-73 roadbed, the Deboe Street bridge is in the distance.
Looking north from Deboe Road which is halfway between NC 150 and US 220 showing progress in clearing and grading the future I-73 roadbed.
Looking south from Deboe Road at future bridge over I-73 being constructed.
Looking south from Bookbank Rd at future I-73 Roadbed, in distance are twin bridges under construction over the Reddy Fork River.
Looking north from Bookbank Road at future I-73 roadbed, this section has only recently started serious construction.
Looking south from Alcorn Road along I-73 roadbed heading toward NC 68 bridge.
Looking further north along the graded roadbed for Future I-73 from Alcorn Road.
Looking south of Alcorn Road and the clearing for I-73 heading back toward NC 68. Alcorn Road will be go over I-73 here.
View north of Alcorn Road showing clearing of roadbed heading toward NC 150 and several idle construction vehicles.
Looking south of Bunch Road and the progress of clearing the land for the future I-73 freeway near Summerfield.
View south of NC 150 (Oak Ridge Rd) and the extensive clearing be made for future interchange with I-73.
If anyone has any other photos to share of the construction going on for either of these segments,
Feel free to E-mail me.