From the end of the current US 74 Laurinburg-Maxton Bypass near Alma, to just before its intersection with Interstate 95 near Lumberton, US 74 was a two lane highway prior to the fall of 2008. NCDOT in 2004 started construction that would reroute US 74 in this section onto a "4-lane divided facility on new location" south of the existing highway. The new mileposts and signage installed along the road near Maxton since then indicated I-74 would be the primary route upon completion.1 The project was listed in the NCDOT 2009-2015 STIP as Number R-513.(2) Construction, originally scheduled to start in 2007, was pushed up to late 2004 with NCDOT borrowing funds that were to be paid back out of program accounts when the project was completed. The contract for the project was awarded in two parts on November 5, 2004. The first part was constructing 11 miles of the freeway from Henry Berry Road southeast of Pembroke to NC 41 south of Lumberton. The second part was building the remaining 8 miles from Pembroke to the end of the US 74 Laurinburg-Maxton Bypass in Alma. Construction started on November 29, 2004. The project included building a new cloverleaf interchange with I-95 (Exit 13) 1/2 mile south of the existing US 74 exit (Exit 14), which was eliminated at the end of construction and, in anticipation, the southbound I-95 on-ramp and northbound off-ramp were permanently closed to traffic on October 31, 2006.2
Lane closures occured frequently on I-95 in 2006 and 2007 around the future I-74/US 64 exit as Collector/ Distributor (C/D) ramps were built on either side of the existing highway and the bridge that would carry I-74 over I-95 was being built.3 Parts of other local roads were closed as well. These closures lasted until the freeway opened in September of 2008.4,5 The total cost of the project was estimated at $238 million.6 The original estimated date of completion was December 2008. Work proceeded though ahead of schedule whereby, on September 26, 2008 the I-74 roadway was opened to traffic in both directions (the eastbound section had opened the previous weekend), the road was opened while remaining construction east of I-95 continued.4,7,8,9 Almost a year before, on November 30, 2007 a ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded the opening of a 6-mile section from the end of the Maxton Bypass to NC 710.10 In July 2007 NCDOT put up what will be the first I-74 exit signs along the route at the end of the Maxton Bypass (see photo below). The signs were for the future Alternate US 74 East. The photos below were taken either after the route to NC 710 was opened November 30, 2007 or after the rest of the eastern portion was open around September 19, 2008.
I-74/US 74 East at Alternate US 74: Using Off-Ramp from East Alt. US 74 (July 2015)
I-74/US 74 East at I-95: Using C/D Ramp from I-95 South (July 2013)
I-74/US 74 West at NC 41: Using On-Ramp from NC 41 South (August 2011)
I-74/US 74 West at NC 710: Using On-Ramp from NC 710 North (June 2013)
Traverse this section of I-74 through these videos by RoadwayWiz:
Exits 191 to 200 Eastbound Exits 200 to 209 Eastbound Exits 209 to 213 Eastbound
Exits 213 to 209 Westbound Exits 209 to 200 Westbound Exits 200 to 191 Westbound
First I-74 exit signs for the new US 74 (future Alt US 74)/US 74 Business interchange at the end of the Maxton bypass. The speed limit was originally 55 mph starting near then exit 220 (now 194), but was increased to 70 mph after the rest of the highway was completed. (August 2007). Photo courtesy of Nick Hudson.
Signage at the I-74/NC 710 interchange south of Pembroke. I-74 was signed as an interstate even before the freeway reached Lumberton and I-95. (Nov. 30, 2007)
A closer look at the bridge and the NC 710 interchange when it first opened. (Nov. 30, 2007)
Looking east from the temporary end of I-74 at NC 710 in 2007, the road was basically complete except for signage. (Nov. 30, 2007)
This was the first I-74/US 74 signage combination you can saw going westbound after the NC 710 onramp when the first segment opened (Nov. 30, 2007).
A closer look at this unique combination, the first time an interstate and a US route with the same number are signed on the same highway. (Nov. 30, 2007)
Here's a Junction I-74/US 74 sign assembly at the Cabinet Shop Road Exit (197, formerly 223).
The view of the NC 710 Exit in September 2008 just after the I-74 freeway was completed to NC 41 going eastbound.(9/20/08)
As you can see, the speed limit on the new section of I-74 is 70 mph. (9/20/08)
The next exit eastbound is for Dew Road, notice the exit number difference. The original number, according to contract documents, for this exit was 230. NCDOT apparently found the reason why their I-74 mileposts were 27 miles too high between 2007 and 2008, this exit number, coincidentally or not, matched that from my exit list created before this segment was completed. (9/20/08)
Here's the sign for the next exit, Back Swamp Road, the original exit number would have been 234. (9/20/08)
Here's the first sign for the I-95/US 301 interchange, the only one that is ground mounted. (11/15/09)
The first overhead I-95 interchange signage, just 1/2 mile from the previous exit before the south I-95/US 301 offramp. (11/15/09)
Here's a closeup of the I-95/US 301 northbound offramp with the sign for the next exit US 74 Alternate. (9/20/08)
Here's a closeup of the sign for the last numbered exit going eastbound in September, Exit 210. (9/20/08)
They also installed an overhead for Exit 210 at the completion of the project in December 2008. (2/7/09)
Here's one of the signs indicating that I-74 in Robeson County is officially the "American Indian Highway" (2/7/09)
All the milemarkers along this stretch come complete with I-74 shields, this is between Exits 210 and 213. (May 2009) JM
Here's the last exit eastbound, first westbound for NC 41. The entrance ramp eastbound still includes a shield for I-74 east, because the road ends about 1/2 mile further east. (2/7/09)
By December they had completed most of the work to the NC 41 (Exit 213) interchange eastbound, which included an end sign for I-74 after the exit (Photo courtesy of Stephen Summers, 12/08).
Here are photos approaching the new I-74 freeway, first from I-95/US 301 South taken 10/12/08
The first I-74 exit sign is 2 miles out, the sign in the distance says to access the former route (now US 74 Alternate), use exit 13A.
Now 1 mile away, the excitement, or is it the confusion among drivers seeing the same number on two different routes, is building.
Driving on to the C/D ramps one has an interesting choice of destinations, only 1 of which (Laurinburg) does I-74 actually go to.
The eastbound on-ramp is ahead, or one can get back on I-95.
Now the view from I-95/US 301 aproaching from the South (and South of the Border)....
The one mile sign heading northbound, a more rural landscape than that behind the 1 mile sign southbound (May 2009). JM
As seen from photos above, both I-95 exits feature C/D ramps. Again some incongruity exists between the milepost and the exit number (May 2009). JM
Now the view traveling on I-74 westbound:
The first I-74 numbered exit sign for NC 41, notice the VMS assembly they put up probably for I-95 traffic troubles. (May 2009) JM
This is the first I-74/US 74 seen now going westbound, after the NC 41 Exit (May 2009). JM
Same C/D set up going north on I-95.
Similar sign set up going westbound as east, except no sign for the next exit.
The NC 710 Exit Marked with the Right number in May 2009 (Photo courtesy of James Mast, JM)
The old exit number for NC 710 as it appeared in October 2008, the exit number stayed though many of the mileposts in the area have been stripped of their wrong mile signage.
View showing you can now go both directions at the NC 710 interchange (October 2008).
The new number for the Cabinet Shop Road Exit can be seen heading westbound. (May 2009) JM
The intersection with the pre-existing Maxton Bypass is beyond this exit. Slightly confusing maybe, a sign with 2 US 74 shields on a highway with 2 different shields with the 74 number (May 2009) JM.
Here's what the western end of the new freeway at the Business US 74/Alternate US 74 interchange looked like in October 2007 with the former exit number (Exit 220). There is only one ramp westbound vs. two going eastbound. (October 2007)
The exit leads to this possibly confusing sign assembly, Business 74 goes toward Maxton and predates the new freeway, Alternate US 74 replaced the current US 74 when construction of I-74 was complete.
This also may be a future confusing sign complex for some people. This is the ramp to East I-74/US 74 at the end of Business US 74 and the beginning of Alternate US 74.
Is this assembly at the other end in Lumberton any less confusing?
For history buffs, these other photos show the progress in constructing the I-95/I-74 interchange in early August through November 2007.
Looking south at the future I-95/I-74 interchange from what was US 74 in the summer of 2007. (August 2007)
Here's another photo showing the I-95/I-74 interchange in the summer of 2007. Photo courtesy of Nick Hudson.
Here's a look at the progress at the east end of the project as of November 2007, clearly not as advanced as the west end. (photo courtesy of Rodney Gardner). The road you see graded had been paved, but had not been connected to the old road. (9/20/08)
Here are some photos of the completed bridge work around the eastern end of the project courtesy of Nick Zachetti from early July 2008, according to the photographer the graded areas were paved in August 2008:
Here are more photos taken August 25, 2008 courtesy of Nick Zachetti showing construction progress:
Another NCDOT Project related to this segment is Number K-4002 which will build a Rest Area on I-74 east of the I-95 interchange. The project was listed for 'planning and environmental study only' and thus has no official timetable or cost. No sign of its construction has appeared along I-74 after it was completed in 2008. (12)
During 2000 several Future I-74 Corridor signs were put up along the stretch of now US 74 Alternate, like the one below.
Photo courtesy of Adam Prince
At the urging of area citizens and local politicians, NCDOT named the new highway the American Indian Freeway due to the large Native American population in Robeson County. Many local citizens had complained that the current US 74's designation as the Andrew Jackson highway would be inappropriate for the new freeway. The current Jackson highway name was retained on the old route (now US 74 Alternate) after the freeway was built.(13)
The following are exit numbers in use on this segment of I-74. The original numbers, according to NCDOT Contract Documents,14 are listed in parentheses. New numbers based on a corrected 2008 spreadsheet sent to me from NCDOT15 were also in disagreement, and I sent a reply indicating my numbers still did not agree. Apparently NCDOT then redid their calculations and came up with new mileage for I-74, with mileposts that were closer to my originally calculated exit numbers, NCDOT started replacing these numbers in Mid-April 2009 and finished in early May.16 For more info see the I-74 Exit List:
Exit 193 (220) US 74 Alternate/US 74 Business
Exit 196 (223) Cabinet Shop Rd
Exit 200 (226) NC 710 Pembroke Red Springs
Exit 203 (230) Dew Road Pembroke
Exit 207 (234) Back Swamp Rd
Exit 209 (235) I-95/US 301 Fayetteville Florence
Exit 210 (237) US 74 Alternate
Exit 213 (239) NC 41 Lumberton Fairmont
Here is a more close up look where the new freeway runs compared to the old US 74 route, now Alternate US 74.
Map overlay of aerial image courtesy of Rodney Gardner.