Thumbnail image of NC 
		  I-795 Shield from Shields Up!

Wilson-Goldsboro Freeway

First Proposed: 2001

Route Approved: September 2007

Initially Signed: November 2007

Fully Signed: March 2010


The Route: Former US 117 Freeway from US 70 near Goldsboro
to US 264 near Wilson to I-95, 25.4 miles

Interstate 795 is the designation for the former US 117 freeway between I-95 at the US 264 interchange in Wilson and US 70 in Goldsboro, though the route was official in 2007, not all the route and exit signage (particularly needed along the US 264 section) was put up until March 2010.

Map of I-795 Route, courtesy of NCDOTMap courtesy of NCDOT

Establishment

This freeway is less than 10 years old but has quickly become an infamous interstate highway due to its many problems. The route starts at the current I-95 interchange (Exit 119) with US 264 near Wilson and proceeds four miles east along the US 264 freeway to the interchange with the new formerly US 117 freeway (finished in 2006). The route then travels south 21 miles to the last freeway exit at US 70 in Goldsboro. Getting the US 117 freeway designated as an interstate had been a long-range goal by Goldsboro and Wayne County officials. The route number was first proposed in 2001.1 AASHTO conditionally approved the number for the highway on September 28, 2007 after several months of negotiating with the FHWA and NCDOT. The condition was largely getting word from the FHWA that they approved the interstate route, see below for details. It seems trucks larger than 48 feet could not use the route due to a lack of an interstate designation, and so many trucks were fined by the NC State Police for using it. With the AASHTO approval, on October 8, 2007 the route became an interstate according to state troopers, which then allowed 53-foot trucks to use the road without fear of getting a ticket.1,2 AASHTO removed the conditional approval tag on October 22, 2007.3 The officially signing of the road started on November 8, 2007 (again, see below).

AASHTO's approval came after a rejection earlier that year at the May 4, 2007 meeting of the organization's Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (USRN).4 That committee listed the reason for its rejection the belief that the interstate application was premature as that the proposed route did not appear on the FHWA's list of future interstate corridors. Correspondence with the FHWA sent to AASHTO in April 2007 indicated that agency would probably approve the route if NCDOT improved a section of the US 117/264 freeway which was prone to accidents in wet weather. NCDOT indicated a contract to do so would be let in May.5 The contract, W-5007 was listed in the 2007-2013 State TIP as costing $800,000, and was completed by the end of the summer of 2007.6 The US 117 freeway part of I-795 was built to interstate standards and did not need any new construction to get the I-795 number, at least in 2007.

Problems with Pavement

A swift deterioration in the pavement of the 2-year old route was first reported on in January 2008 along a 2.5 mile segment of I-795. Speculation was that due to the design, which used a thinner layer of asphalt typically used for US routes, not a thicker slab typical of interstate highways, the road surface had not held up to use by heavy trucks.7 In April 2008, the FHWA agreed to study the problem and recommend a solution. Part of the study included using a specialized truck that sent sound waves through the asphalt to try to detect whether the rest of the roadbed was deteriorating, or just that short section.8 While the FHWA continued to study the road, NCDOT patched the 2.5 mile problem area starting in Fall of 2008 at a cost of $483,000.9 On January 8, 2009 NCDOT released to the public the content of the FHWA's report. The report indicated the width of the pavement was probably not to blame but the quality of the pavement (that included possible air bubbles) and the use by heavy trucks combined that resulted in the crumbling of the pavement in some areas. They recommended that the whole route be rebuilt with an additional 2.5 to 3 inches of asphalt added for the future roadbed. The total cost would run between $15 and $22 million to repair.10 The public was not amused by another 'botched job' by the NCDOT.11 The repair project started in November 2009, an initial asphalt layer was to be placed on the highway along the right lanes first, before the end of 2009. Then both lanes of the highway in either direction would receive a final layer of asphalt. The initial asphalt has been placed on the entire affected area northbound as of mid-January, but only partly southbound. The entire route was repaved by the fall of 2010. In 2011, the repaving project, somewhat ironically, won the Sheldon G. Hayes Award from the National Asphalt Pavement Association for excellence in asphalt pavement construction with credit given both the contractor and NCDOT.12

Complications with Signing I-795

NCDOT announced on November 8, 2007 that I-795 signs would start going up along the roadway within the next two weeks. Signage was put up along the highway and at most exit ramps on November 28. Mileposts and revising signs at the interstate's endpoints were supposed to take a little longer, but as the press release indicated these would be installed by the spring of 2008.13 However, a trip along I-795 six months later in September 2008 showed no further progress. Exit numbers and mileposts had not been changed to reflect I-795's mileage. US 117 signs were taken off the freeway when the I-795 signs went up and put back up on its old alignment that had been re-designated US 117 Alternate. The end of US 117 reverted to its previous end at US 301 and all US 117 signs along the US 264 freeway portion were removed. However, in what could be called a slight miscalculation on NCDOT's part, AASHTO rejected moving US 117 back to its old alignment both in May and November 2008 citing a provision where a US route cannot be put back on an alignment inferior to its current one, in this case going from a 4-lane freeway back to a 2-lane road.14 NCDOT re-sent the application again explaining since US 117 had been on its previous alignment for more that 50 years, it was less confusing to the public to have it restored to its old route and sign the new freeway I-795 (and besides NCDOT had not added many 'Alternate' banners to the existing US 117 signs along the route anyway). AASHTO then finally agreed to a change of heart and approved restoring US 117 back to its old route in April 2009.15 NCDOT could now go forward with revising exit numbers and mileposts, the new exit numbers appearing first on the 2009-10 NC State Map released in January 2009, though they did not start changing the numbers on the actual road until late 2009. The numbers according to the map were to start at I-95 and increase as one goes south, US 70, the last interchange, was to be exit 24. This is opposite to standard interstate mileage practice, where mileage starts at the southern border or highway end. However, it was in compliance with 2009 MUTCD standards which indicate mileage on a spur route should start at its parent roadway interchange and increase from there. However, NCDOT ended up not putting in new I-795 numbers, sticking to the existing US 264 mileage numbers, where that highway shared the freeway with I-795 for the first 5 miles. Ironically, this is contrary to the MUTCD which indicates exit numbers for an interstate take precedence over a US route, even if the US route was there first.

Extension beyond Goldsboro Finally Approved

Original proposals for an interstate route along US 117 had the interstate continue south from Goldsboro to connect with I-40 near Kenly. A NCDOT spokesman in 2005 though indicated this proposal was too costly since it would require massive reconstruction of the route through Goldsboro, though both that city's and Wilson officials would like an extension of the route down to I-40 to help commercial and local traffic.7,16   In 2014, Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, along with several NC congressman, sponsored a piece of legislation called the "Route to Opportunity and Development Act of 2014, that would designate U.S. 117 as a future interstate highway between Goldsboro and I-40, presumably for an extension of I-795.17 In 2016 Congress passed a new transportation funding law, The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed by President Obama on December 14, 2015, that included the upgrading of US 117, with the exception of a bypass around Goldsboro, to interstate standards. While no money was included in the bill, NCDOT, as part of its preliminary list of 2018-2027 STIP projects,18 included several US 117 projects that could be use to upgrade parts of the route to an interstate, pending their inclusion in the final documents. Here's a list of the projects:

Route From / Cross Street To /Cross Street Project: Cost
US 117 North of SR 1135 (Country Club Road) South of SR 1129 (South Landfill Road) Upgrade Roadway to Interstate $17,300,000
US 117 South of SR 1129 (South Landfill Road) South of SR 1927 (Genoa Road) Construct Interstate on New Location $35,000,000
US 117 South of SR 1927 (Genoa Road) South of NC 581 (Arrington Bridge Road) Construct Interstate on New Location $62,400,000
US 117 South of NC 581 (Arrington Bridge Road) North of NC 581 (West Ashe Street) Construct Interstate on New Location $111,300,000
US 117 SR 1006 (W Trade Road) NC 55 in Mout Olive, NC Upgrade US 117 to Interstate, with interchanges at US 117 and NC 50. $61,400,000
US 117 I-40 in Sampson County SR 1006 (W Trade Road) Upgrade US 117 to Interstate, with interchanges at US 117 and SR 1006. $69,900,000


Some I-795 Video Links

Traverse the I-795 corridor through these videos from RoadwayWiz:

Exits 1 to 9 Southbound        Exits 9 to 18 Southbound        Exits 18 to 25 Southbound

Exits 25 to 18 Northbound     Exits 18 to 9 Northbound        Exits 9 to 1 Northbound

Some I-795 Photos

The photos below, taken between 2007 and April 2010, help illustrate issues from the text above.

Photo of the first I-795 shield to appear on the US 264 East section of I-795 in 
December 2007Here's the first I-795 shield after the I-95 interchange, this section still uses US 264 exit numbers. (12/2/07)


Photo showing former US 117 exit sign on US 264 East changed to I-795 in March 2010In March 2010, the former US 117 exit sign was replaced by one with I-795. The interstate, however, remains an exit off of US 264. (4/5/10)


Photo of I-795 Exit sign on US 264 East and auxiliary signage for US 117 traffic, 
April 2010The change for Exit 43C on the first overhead sign, a ground-level sign after the exit tells you to take US 301 to get to US 117. Notice no direction is given for I-795 on any of the southbound signs. (4/5/10)


Final overhead sign for I-795 on US 264 East which replaced simple ground-mounted 
trailblazer sign in March 2010This overhead sign is clearly better than the one trailblazer sign that could be missed that was just before where the bridge is from the end of 2007 until March 2010. (4/5/10)


Photo of exit signage for US 301 on I-795 South near Rocky Mount, April 2010You can actually get on US 301 by taking I-795, and if you miss the I-795 exit get back on using US 301 South, as seen in the photos below. (4/5/10)


Photo of signage on US 301 south that distinguish between intersection for US 
117 back on its old route, and I-795 on the former US 117 freeway, Jan. 2010If there's any doubt which route is US 117 and which I-795, NCDOT has left large signs indicating which is which on US 301 heading toward the I-795 ramps. (1/16/10)


Photo of signage at US 301 interchange with I-795 in January 2010Signs at the US 301 interchange in January 2010. (1/16/10)


Photo of newly installed I-795 South milemarker near US 264 interchange, Jan. 
2010NCDOT replaced the US 117 milemarkers with I-795 directional mile markers every 1/2 mile after the US 264 split, here being mile 6.5. The mile markers for mile 24.5 were put in wrong, having the northbound marker going south and vice versa, sorry, no photo. (1/16/10)


Photo of Alton Road exit signage off of I-795 South showing new Exit number, 
Jan. 2010The revised exit number, 9, for the second exit going southbound, Alton Road. (1/16/10)


Photo of NC 222 exit signage off of I-795 South showing new Exit number, Jan. 
2010The next exit southbound, NC 222 is now exit 14. Notice the new pavement on the right side lanes completed as part of the I-795 pavement repair project. (1/16/10)


Photo of Pikeville exit signage off of I-795 South showing new Exit number, 
Jan. 2010The Pikeville exit is now 18. Notice that the repaving has stopped going south, it was completed by the end of 2010. (1/16/10)


Photo of US 70 exit signage off of I-795 South showing no change in exit 
number, perhaps due to US 70 Bypass, Jan. 2010They have not changed the exit number for the last exit, US 70. This still has US 117 mileage. This is either because they have not gotten to it yet, or because I-795 may end at the new US 70 Goldsboro Bypass being constructed prior to this exit. Time will tell. (1/16/10)


Photo of inconsistent signage along US 70 at southern end of I-795 in 
Goldsboro, Jan. 2010I-795 is marked going northbound along US 70 West, East the sign says 'To I-795'. Notice the US 117 South sign which indicates it travels along US 70 after its intersection to the east. The signage in the area though is not consistent. (1/16/10)


Photo of first I-795 North milemarker near Goldsboro before new US 70 Bypass, 
Jan. 2010This is the first mile marker going Northbound, Mile 24, this is before the US 70 bypass construction seen in the distance. (1/16/10)


Photo of exit signage for the last exit on the former US 117 portion of I-795, 
Jan. 2010The final exit on the former US 117 portion going north. You cannot exit onto US 264 east from I-795. (1/16/10)


Photo of new I-795 sign at interchange with US 264 northbound in Apr. 2010The left overhead sign above still referred to US 117 until March 2010. Again, after the merge with US 264 heading north, there are no signage updates due to NCDOT keeping US 264 milepost exit numbers. (4/5/10)


Photo of exit signage along US 264 West portion of I-795 in Dec. 2007Here's signage heading toward I-95. (December 2007)


Photo of End I-795 sign just before I-95 exit off of US 264 West in Dec. 2007Here's an end I-795 (north) sign just before the I-95 interchange. (December 2007)


Photo of exit signage along US 264 East portion of I-795 in Dec. 2007Here's I-795 signage heading south toward Goldsboro and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, which seems to be busy with all the contrails in the sky above.


Photo of End I-795 sign just before US 70 exit north of Goldsboro in Dec. 2007The end (south) I-795 sign just before the US 70 exit in Goldsboro. (December 2007)


Here's are photos illustrating the many sign changes that took place during the first three years of I-795's existence:

Photo of US 117 interchange signing along US 301 in Oct. 2007Signing looking south along US 301, to be compared with future signage when interstate 795 shields replace US 117 (10/21/07).


Photo of I-795 interchange signing along US 301 in May 2008The only thing that changed by May 2008 was the addition of a Junction I-795 sign, and additional signs at the on-ramps. (5/4/08)


Photo of I-795 interchange signing along US 301 in Jan. 2010And here is what it looked like in January 2010. (1/16/10)


Photo of I-795 interchange signing along I-95 in Apr. 2010A new sign was put up in March 2010 along I-95 which now included the I-795, dropped the US 117 signage, and included Goldsboro as a control city. The previous sign is below, I-795 was only added as a trailblazer under the overhead sign. (4/5/10)


Photo of I-795 interchange signing along I-95 in May 2008The sign situation between Dec. 2007 and March 2010, the 'To' was not really necessary on the trailblazer since the route technically began with the off-ramp (photo taken May 4, 2008), same view on 1/16/10.