Completing the Route to Business 85
Segment 6 is part of I-74's second fully signed section in NC and is co-signed with US 311 on what is referred to as the "East Belt" bypass of High Point. The project to build this segment (Number R-609) was broken up into three parts.1 Part one, from where the US 311 freeway from Winston-Salem originally ended at Main Street (now Exit 65, former Bus. 311) to NC 68, Eastchester Drive (photo below), almost 2 miles in length, was completed in 1997. The second part, 4.5 miles from NC 68 to US 29/70 (Business Loop I-85), was opened on November 20, 2004 after a delay of nearly a year.2 Once this section was completed, US 311 was re-routed along the completed bypass to Business 85 and then south to its old route. The exits on both parts were first numbered based on US 311 mileposts, but were renumbered in 2008 to I-74 based mileposts (See the I-74 Exit List), to match those put up at the same time along Segment 5. Though some initial news reports indicated NCDOT was not planning to sign the highway as I-74 until the freeway was completed to US 220 (I-73)3, documents posted by NCDOT for the last section contract letting in late 2006 included detailed plans showing the placement of I-74 signage along the entire stretch of the East-Belt at the conclusion of the project. Though the final segment opened in November, some of the I-74 signs were not placed on the previous completed sections until December 2010.4
Finishing the Route to I-85
The Right-of Way acquisition phase for the third part (6.7 miles from Business 85 across I-85 to Tuttle Road, SR 1920 near Archdale) was delayed a year, to 2003, due to environmental concerns about the road's path being near the new Randleman Reservoir, a future drinking water source for Greensboro.5,6 Complicating matters, for the 2007 contract letting this segment was split into smaller pieces with part of the contract (a one mile piece east of I-85 to Tuttle Road) assigned to the contract for the next NCDOT project (R-2606), officially called the US 311 Bypass (see I-74 Segment 7). The winning contractor, Blythe Construction put in a combined bid ($104 million) for both projects. Construction started on May 31, 2007, three years after first scheduled.7 There was a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project on July 16, 2007, as described in the official NCDOT press release.8 According to the NCDOT press release noting the contract was approved, the tentative completion date was set for May 2011. However, NCDOT announced in March 2010 that the road would open by that November, 6 months early (even though it was originally supposed to be completed in 2007).10 The 2009-2015 STIP indicated total costs for building this entire segment at $242.8 million.1 The new I-85 interchange was near the pre-existing NC 62 exit, so traffic would use collector/distributor (C/D) ramps to access both NC 62 (now Exit 113A) and I-74/US 311 (Exits 113B and C)from I-85.4 In May 2008, for construction of the I-85 interchange, the ramp from NC 62 to I-85 South was closed and because I-74 passes under I-85, it was necessary to build the C/D ramps for the future I-74 interchange first and then, in October 2008, place I-85 traffic in both directions temporarily on these ramps so that new bridges could be constructed to take I-85 over I-74.11 The new bridges were completed in April 2010 and NCDOT re-opened the original I-85 lanes during April and May. The remaining six months of construction were spent bringing the I-74 roadway to completion.7 For photos documenting the construction of the third section from 2007 to 2010, go to the I-74 Segment 6 Construction Photo Page.
In the February 2018 NCDOT advertised for two construction projects along and adjacent to this segment. The first is the building an extension of Greensboro Road that will start just east of the I-74 interchange near High Point. Part of the project will be updating the signage for I-74. When the sign plans came out, there was something of a surprise:
The plans called for only retaining the I-74 signs (thus removing of the US 311 shields) and the new on-ramp signage only listed I-74. It seemed US 311 was either being removed or re-routed. The answer came in March when NCDOT announced it wanted to truncate US 311 to High Point due to the confusion of having 2 signed routes in different directions. High Point city officials supported the move.12 AASHTO approved NCDOT's application which calls for the removal of all US 311 signage from the segment by the end of 2018.13 The other construction project, the revising of the NC 68 High Point interchange, to be let in June, also has signage that will reflect the removal of US 311, and that I-40 will be removed from the NC 68 exit signs:
I-74 East/US 311 South at North Main Street: From Just Before Exit 65 Off-Ramp (November 2016)
I-74 East/US 311 South at Business 85: From On-Ramp to Bus. 85/US 29/US 70 (November 2016)
I-74 West/US 311 North at I-85: From On-Ramp to I-85 North (November 2016)
I-74 West/US 311 North at NC 68: Just Before Exit 67 Off-Ramp (October 2016)
Section 1, Exit 65 (Main Street) to Exit 67 (Eastchester Drive)
Signage at the start of the 'East Belt' after the entire freeway was completed in November 2010 (Photo Courtesy of Adam Prince (AP)) (10/28/10)
This is how signage appeared in the Spring of 2010 after a tornado had blown off the original signs, only a new sign for Exit 65 was put up, the former sign has Business US 311, but the route was decommissioned in the fall of 2009. (4/6/10)
Sign assembly heading north on Main Street in High Point. Anyone driving straight beyond the light enters ramp to US 311 North (Despite what the signs on the right say, I-74 West ends currently ends at this interchange, the route beyond is signed Future I-74/North US 311). (10/13/11) This was formerly US 311 (and briefly US 311 Business) before the East Belt was completed to Business 85.
Signage was updated prior to the Johnson Street exit in November 2010 to reflect the new I-74 designation (AP). (11/28/10)
In contrast, the sign was not changed after Exit 66 going westbound, because currently I-74 ends westbound at Exit 65, though there's no sign to signify this (as opposed to the eastern end, see below). (AP 11/28/10).
Section 2, Exit 67 (Eastchester Drive) to 71B (Business 85/US 29/US70)
West I-74/North US 311 signage approaching the NC 68 interchange (Exit 67) in October 2011. (10/13/11)
Looking northbound on NC 68 at the US 311 (Future I-74) interchange in the fall of 2004. There was a sign assembly before the entrance ramp indicating a control city of Greensboro for US 311 South. (Winston-Salem is the control city northbound) (11/21/04).
View of the completed I-74/US 311, Eastchester Drive (NC 68) interchange from city of High Point traffic camera (5/18/11)
View of new I-74/US 311 signage heading westbound before the Kivett Drive exit. (AP 11/28/10)
View traveling up ramp from Kivett Drive to US 311 South (then Future I-74 East) in July 2010. The interchange has begun to show its age. (7/25/10)
Photo shows Kivett Drive ramp being constructed a year before it opened to US 311 South. (October 2003)
New signage in place on Kivett Drive heading west after the competion of the East Belt Highway in November 2010. (10/13/11)
Signage at Kivett Drive onramp to I-74 East. Not all the signs had been changed from the earlier photo below, particularly the street sign on the traffic light. (10/13/11)
The US 311 Bypass (I-74) interchange and bridge over Kivett Drive in High Point almost a year later, the day after the bypass opened. (November 21, 2004)
West I-74 and North US 311 shields heading toward Kivett Drive (Exit 70) in October 2011. (10/13/11)
The then US 311 freeway westbound showing the replacement of exit numbers with those based on I-74 mileposts in December 2008. The placement of I-74 signs would have to wait until the third segment was completed in late November 2010. The Exit 70 sign was changed in 2015 when Kivett Drive was renamed Martin Luther King Jr Drive by the City of High Point.
View further down the US 311 freeway heading westbound showing new exit numbers in December 2008. (12/14/08)
Continuing westbound on yet to be signed I-74 in December 2008 returning to the first segment built (The Exit 67 sign was modified to read To I-40 East in 2014 due to comments by drivers). (12/14/08)
Signage for Business 85 Exit 'Volleyball Interchange' on I-74 East, the empty bracket was for the former 'All Traffic Exit'' tab. (10/13/11)
The same exit signs approaching Business 85 heading eastbound when this was the end of the East Belt Freeway. (12/14/08)
Signage for ramps to I-74 East and West from Business 85 South 'volleyball' interchange showing post-opening signage. (10/13/11)
Looking at the unopened ramp from I-74 West/ US 311 North in the Fall of 2007, which lead to the former construction area (September 2007).
Signage for I-74 Exit on Business 85 South. First exit sign is only 1/2 mile from the exit ramp. (10/13/11)
Section 3, Exit 71B (Business 85/US 29/US 70) to Exit 75 (I-85)
This section also includes photos summarizing final construction at each bridge over I-74 before the opening of the roadway in November 2010.14 :
1. Business 85 interchange - the unopened section of the interchange was completed in October 2010. Signs were added to the south (east) of Business 85 in early Nov. 2010, prior to the road opening on November 22.
View of sign gantries for Business 85 needing signage in October 2010. View is looking along I-74 west where road curves crossing Business 85. (10/23/10)
View of Business 85 from unopened I-74 freeway westbound bridge in October 2010. The top of the van seen above is using the ramp to I-74 West. (10/24/10)
I-74 East signage at Business 85 interchange, the former end of the East Belt highway before November 2010. (10/13/11)
2. Baker Road Bridge - The new bridge was completed in early February 2010 after an 8 month project that started in June 2009. Traffic was put onto a temporary road to the north, completed in June therefore not requiring a detour until the new bridge was completed. Work started on the bridge in July 2009 and by the middle of January 2010 it appeared almost ready to open. Concrete for the roadbed had been completed and asphalt was being laid down to connect the bridge to the old road alignment, as seen in the photo below. The bridge was not opened to traffic though until early March, a delay probably due to weather problems preventing lane markings from being put down.
The view driving over the newly opened Baker Rd bridge, heading west, in March 2010. (3/10/10)
Before the opening of the bridge, a milestone was reached in July 2010 when the final asphalt layer for the latest part of the freeway met the previous segment's pavement layer, same sign gantries seen in Business 85 photo above. (7/25/10)
I-85 exit sign on the opened I-74 East approaching the Baker Road Bridge in October 2011. (10/13/11)
3. Jackson Lake Road Bridge - This bridge was completed and opened to traffic at the end of November 2008.
This shows the roadway around the bridge after it received its final coat of asphalt in April 2010. (5/9/10)
Here's the view of the bridge soon after it opened, heading south across it toward its intersection with NC 610. Work to consolidate the excavated material besides the roadbed continued through August 2009. (11/23/08)
Approaching the Jackson Lake Road bridge on I-74 East with the second I-85 exit sign in October 2011. (10/13/11)
Proceeding under the Jackson Lake Road bridge along the unopened I-74 East freeway in October 2010. Note completion of side and median guard rails but not line markings or placement of exit signs. (10/23/10)
While most of the project had been completed looking east toward Kersey Valley Road, work appearef to still be needed for landcaping and water runoff a few months earlier in July 2010. (7/25/10)
View from traffic camera at Jackson Lake Road Bridge. Looking east on open I-74/US 311 in May 2011. (5/18/11)
View along I-74 of roadway at exit sign for Business 85 heading westbound just after Jackson Lake Road Bridge. (AP-11/28/10)
Traveling along the unopened freeway in October 2010 heading west, note the I-74 mile marker, but lack of other signage placement. (10/23/10)
Looking west in July 2010 at a pile of poles and other metal structures put together for one of the I-85/NC 62 interchange signs, not the sign above from 11/28/10, assembled in early August. (7/25/10)
Here's a view of the opened bridge in November 2009 from another angle. (11/9/08)
4. Kersey Valley Road Bridge - This bridge was opened to traffic in October 2008.
This view from May 2010 looks southwest along the curved bridge after the final layer of asphalt had been placed. (5/9/10)
Approaching the newly opened bridge from the southwest in October 2008. A road off Kersey Valley called Dresden Road (where the truck is seen turning on the right) was used as a detour route and now is a dead end service road since the freeway excavation cut off access back to Kersey Valley Rd (see photo below).(10/31/08)
This view of the bridge from July 2010 shows the addition of guardrails along the eastbound lanes, additional landscaping, plus the completion of the construction road seen a month earlier whose necessity will become apparent in a photo below. (7/25/10)
The view from June 2010 shows work had been completed on placing down the asphalt layers for the highways, though some landscaping and guardrail work remains. (6/20/10)
Overhead signs at the I-74 East interchange with I-85. The interstate and interchange flyover ramps can be seen in the distance. (10/13/11)
The look south toward the interchange from Dresden Road shows a then new overhead exit sign assembly that was completed in July 2010 and awaited sign placement. (7/25/10)
View of signage on I-85 ramps from I-74 East. The I-85 south ramp leads to C/D lanes and the NC 62 exit. (10/13/11)
View of the construction materials that can be moved using the freeway due to the construction of a temporary access road from the freeway toward Dresden Road in June and July 2010. (7/25/10)
View from the bridge looking northwest back toward the Jackson Lake bridge. This section was one of the most completed in May 2010. (5/9/10)
5. The I-85 / US 311 - I-74 interchange
Footings for bridge structures were completed over the summer of 2008 and C/D lanes constructed for the future interchange. Traffic was switched on I-85 in both directions onto the C/D lanes once they were completed in October 2008 so the I-85 road could be excavated for the I-74 freeway. Besides the I-85 bridges, a flyover ramp to carry I-74 East traffic to I-85 north was also constructed and the existing NC 62 exit ramps reconfigured. The original I-85 roadway reopened in mid-April 2010 six months before I-74 in November.
Work still remained on building the support walls for the I-85 roadway over I-74 in Nov. 2009, there also appears to be little asphalt on the southern roadbed after the flyover. (11/8/09)
New exit signs installed in the spring of 2010 on I-85 South, showing the NC 62 exit now designated 113A (old number 113 gore sign on right). (5/9/10)
Approaching the I-74 interchange back in 2010 a month before it opened showing the completed signs covered over, the ramp was opened before the I-74 exit was completed to allow access to the NC 62 exit above. (10/23/10)
Overhead signs for the future I-74 east and west exit ramps covered over the month prior to freeway completion. (10/23/10)
A view of the I-74 East ramp off of I-85 South in the setting sun in October 2011. (10/13/11)
Sign covered over for yet to open I-74 East ramp, through traffic must exit at ramp for NC 62 seen above, taken one month prior to freeway opening. (10/23/10)
Mile markers for I-74, here for mile 75 near the I-85 interchange, were installed in October 2010, these were continued onto the previously opened section of freeway to the west after this section was opened to traffic in late November 2010. (10/23/10)
Approaching the I-85 interchange bridges along eastbound I-74 nearly a year after road opened. There are a total of five bridges over I-74, though some are hidden in this photo. (10/13/11)
Traveling under I-85 along the unopened I-74 West freeway in October 2010. Note the lack of line markings and signs needed to still be put in place at that time. (10/23/10)
Traveling under sign gantry for I-85 interchange on unopened I-74 East freeway, same gantry sign as in photo in Kersey Valley Road section taken in July 2010. (10/23/10)
Photo from July 2010 showing sign assemblies, and signs had been put up, the future exit signs covered over. (7/25/10)
Further down I-85 South at the then US 311 Exit, a new overhead sign indicates a change of the planned Business 311 designation for Main St in High Point and its decommissioning to a secondary route designation when US 311 was moved to the new freeway. (3/10)
The next sign assembly for the I-74 West off-ramp along the I-85 North C/D ramps near High Point. (7/25/10)
Here are the first signs being put up for the new interchange on I-85 North, the NC 62 ramp also has received a new coat of asphalt. (5/9/10)
View of I-85 interchange signage from I-74 West in October 2011. (10/13/11)
View of I-85 North C/D ramp and I-74 West exit from city of High Point traffic camera in May 2011. (5/18/11)
NCDOT changed the exit numbers in the Fall of 2008 along the open part of this segment to conform to those in the East Belt Freeway Contract Documents.3 The former US 311 numbers are in [ ]:
Exit 65 US 311 Business* High Point 
Exit 66 Johnston St 
Exit 67 NC 68 to I-40 Eastchester Drive 
Exit 69 Greensboro Rd 
Exit 70 Kivett Drive 
Exit 71A Green Street (WB only) [19B]
Exit 71 (71B WB) Bus. Loop 85/ US 27/ US 70 Thomasville Greensboro [19(A)]
*NCDOT submitted an application to AASHTO's U.S. Route Number Committee to eliminate the Business 311 designation along Main Street through High Point and return it to a secondary route status. This request was approved at the Fall AASHTO meeting in Los Angeles in late October 2009, signs were not changed until 2010.