I-73 uses the US 220 freeway south from the Greensboro Urban Loop and proceeds toward Asheboro where 5 miles before the city line it meets the new I-74 freeway from High Point near Randleman (see I-73 Segment 7) completed in June 2013. When the new US 220, I-73/74 freeway south of Asheboro (Segment 9) was completed and signed in 1997, this segment of highway received Future I-73 signage with shields first appearing as far north as the US 220 freeway's start at I-40 exit 218 in Greensboro (since, officially now, I-73 joins the southwestern part of the Loop around Greensboro, these future I-73 shields north of I-85 to I-40 have been taken down). The highway itself, especially the width of its left and right shoulders, was not far from interstate standards, in fact, in design it was similar to the existing US 220 freeway from Steed to Candor which got Interstate 73 and 74 signs in 1997. Prior to the 2012-2018 STIP the upgrade of this section of highway was listed as Project No. I-4921 and unfunded.*1 Since the upgrading is now not scheduled to take place until after 2023, well after the project to upgrade US 220 through Asheboro was completed in November 2012 (see I-73 Segment 8/I-74 Segment 9), the project was not listed in the 2012 STIP document.2 NCDOT officials, however, previously in 1997 obtained a waiver from the FHWA to allow this segment to be signed as Interstate 73 once construction to improve the segment through Asheboro is completed (*). This segment (see I-73 Segment 9 ) was completed in early November 2012.3 A contract to upgrade the highway to interstate standard signing was let in December 2012, started in March 2013 and was completed, two months late in December 2013.4
NCDOT had advertised the coming of I-73 for a long time. In the early 2000's NCDOT put up Future Interstate 73 sign assemblies at US 220 on-ramps in Randolph county (see below), but none farther north in Guilford County toward Greensboro. During the Summer of 2002 there was a construction project rehabilitating the roadway and shoulders of US 220 in Guilford County, unknown whether this was related to I-73, but the right shoulders were widened nearly to Interstate standards and new guardrails were installed.
I-73 South at US 220: Starting at Exit 95 off-ramp (May 2017)
I-73 South from NC 62: Starting at On-Ramp (June 2019)
I-73 South from US 311: Starting at Beginning of US 311 North (June 2018)
I-73 North from I-74 Split: Starting at I-74 West Off-Ramp (June 2019)
I-73 North from End of Business 220: Starting at On-Ramp (June 2019)
Photos from October and November 2017 showing the revised signage reflecting the completion of I-73 segments north of Greensboro, courtesy of Strider:
Revised signage for I-73 at Old Randleman Road exit. I-73 now goes to Martinsville, and the reference to To I-40 is now in just the East direction.
New North I-73 signage at the ramp to I-85 North eliminates all references to West I-40, but still exits itself.
Signage at the exit ramp itself also includes a new reference to Martinsville and no more I-40 West mention.
Overhead signs on I-85 South starting at the I-73/US 220 South exit have also been changed to reference Martinsville and eliminate the To I-40 West text.
Overhead signs between I-73 South and the I-73 North exit have been replaced with new Arrow-Per-Lane signs with the Martinsville destination and lack of a To I-40 West reference.
Here are photos of new signage on Business 85 taken by Strider in November 2017:
New overhead sign on Business 85 North for US 220 exit that now includes a To I-73 South shield.
In addition to the overhead signs there is this auxiliary sign before the US 220 exit as well.
Now on Business 85 South, a revised sign adding Martinsville to the I-73/US 421 North exit destinations. This sign keeping the To I-40 West notation.
Here are photos taken starting in March 2013 showing the first appearance of new I-73 related signage, compare with that above.
An Exit 95 tab now sits atop a new sign approaching the Greensboro Loop interchange on now I-73 North (this is the third version of this sign going to the opening of the Loop, for earlier versions see the photos below), the change was made the last week of March. Photo courtesy of AARoads Forum contributor Strider (4/1/13).
An Exit 95A tab now sits atop a new sign for the I-85 North/US 421 South portion of the Greensboro Loop, the new sign adds Raleigh as a control city, or is it for the new city of Durham/Raleigh?. The sign was put up the last week of March. Photo courtesy of AARoads Forum contributor Strider (3/28/13).
Next to a new Exit 94 tab now atop a sign for the Old Randleman Road exit, a new I-73 shield has been added to the previous blank space next to South US 220 on the left-hand sign. These changes happened in early April. Notice that the exit gore sign in the background still has the old exit number. Photo courtesy of J. Austin Carter (4/2/13).
This is apparently the first I-73 on-ramp signage to go up along the Guilford County portion of US 220 in Sept. 2013 at the NC 62 interchange. Photo courtesy of Strider. (9/29/13)
This is one of the new I-73 shields placed southbound just south of I-85 in early December 2013. Photo Courtesy of Strider. (12/5/13)
This is another new shield put up in early December 2013 placed northbound after the Randleman Rd Exit. Photo Courtesy of Strider. (12/5/13)
Here are some new on-ramps signage also at the Randleman Rd exit, this is for the southbound on-ramp. Photo Courtesy of Strider. (12/5/13)
Here are the new signs at the Northbound On-Ramp. Photo Courtesy of Strider. (12/5/13)
Photo from June 2013 showing newly uncovered signage for I-74 West interchange with I-73/US 220 South, Exit 80, courtesy of Adam Prince. (6/30/13)
New overhead signage installed in July 2012 as part of the contract building the I-74 freeway. The new lane on the right is a continuation of the off-ramp to US 220 North from I-74 East. Notice no exit tab on the sign, matching the pattern of numberless exits along this segment of I-73. The exit tabs were added in 2013 as part of a contract updating all the signing along US 220 from Greensboro to Ellerbe. Signing plans confirmed the US 311 shield was correct and indicated US 311 would leave the I-74 freeway 2 miles prior to its junction with US 220 (I-73). The US 311 shield will probably disappear some time in 2020 due to the route's decommissioning south of Winston-Salem. (7/28/12)
The new exit signage at the US 311 on-ramp from US 220 North in July 2012. No exit tab on this sign, this later became Exit 81 when the route was signed as I-73 in 2013. The End Future I-74 sign, (photo in the page for the next segment) still existed north of the ramp before the bridge in the distance at the end of July 2012. (7/28/12)
Approaching the new signs at the US 311 exit on US 220 South in July 2012. The covered signage is for the future I-74 West exit a mile south of this location. Again the appearance of the US 311 shield indicated this part of its current route would stay the same after the I-74 freeway was opened in early 2013. (7/15/12)
A typical view of how the highway looks, for both Segments 6 and 7. Notice the left and right shoulders, along with the median approach or are up to interstate standards. The main deficient areas involve the short on- and off-ramps. Randleman became Exit 82 in 2013. (6/26/09)
This was the typical on- and off-ramps along this segment prior to 2013, this taken at the NC 62 exit. You could tell this interchange was in Guilford County because it did not include any references to Future I-73 along with US 220. Compare with photo above. (6/26/09)
The standard shield assembly along this segment prior to 2013. Despite no signs at the on-ramps, Future I-73 shields appeared on the roadway in 1997, typically dwarfing the US 220 signs. They were replaced in 2013 with a new I-73/US 220 North sign assemblies. (6/26/09)
The first Exit 78A overhead sign on US 220 North, seen approaching the Greensboro Outer Loop, this sign was changed in late June 2009 due to the realignment of I-40 through Greensboro.(7/26/09) This became Exit 95A in 2013.
This is how the sign approaching the Greensboro Outer Loop originally appeared earlier in 2008 when I-40 was routed on it. (3/16/08).
Here I-73 exits off of itself since the route was using US 220 exit numbers (and is still signed this way after 2013 as I-73 Exit 95B). I-73 currently does not join the Greensboro Loop until after I-85 leaves, it shares a C/D ramp with vehicles wanting to use I-85 Exit 121A at Groometown Road. (7/26/09)
This is what the exit signs looked like originally before they were changed in early July 2009. (3/16/08) The I-85 shield on the sign in the left was replaced by a green Business 85 shield in 2013, and will soon just have a US 29 shield, since Business 85 has been decommissioned and US 70 rerouted around Greensboro in 2019.
US 220/Future I-73 Signs at the on-ramp to US 220 North, Randleman.
North US 220/Future I-73 signs at the US 311 exit.
In May 2010, NCDOT released plans for its next I-73 construction project, upgrading US 220 through Asheboro to Interstate Standards (see I-73 Segment 8). As part of the plan, NCDOT would renumber (or give numbers to) the exits in that section from those based on US 220 mile posts, previously put up south of Asheboro, to I-73 miles used on the Greensboro Urban Loop. NCDOT's plan was to change numbers both south and north of Asheboro as part of a contract (Number I-5329) to upgrade exit signing to interstate standards starting in March 2013. The project cost cost $654,0005 and included replacing the Future I-73 shields with official Interstate 73 shields. Based on plans for the contract from the NCDOT website6, here's was a list of the new exit numbers, going North to South, in bold. All these numbers were up by July 2013:
Exit 95A North I-85, South
US 421 to East I-40, Durham/Raleigh (Old Exit 78A)(NB)
Exit 95B North I-73 US 421 To I-40 Winston-Salem (I-73 exits off of itself, original plans stated US 220 would be a 'straight exit 95B' (Old Exit 78B)(NB)
Exit 95 I-73 South US 220 South Asheboro Rockingham (again this was to be a 'straight exit', but I-73 exits itself. (SB)
Exit 94 Old Randleman Road (Old Exit 77)
Exit 89 NC 62, Climax, High Point (Had no number)
Exit 86 Business 220 Level Cross (Had no number)
Exit 82 Randleman (Had no number)
Exit 81 US 311 Randleman (Had no number)
For a list of all exits on I-73, Go to The I-73 Exit List.
* Technically, a route designated a future interstate, but without specific funding for upgrading the highway to Interstate Standards, could not be be marked with future interstate shields, as I-73 was. The Future I-73 signing though was part of the deal to get I-73/74 signed south of Asheboro. The FHWA added the US 220 freeway south to Emery into the Interstate system in 1997 so that the new segment of I-73/74 could connect to another interstate highway. They disallowed US 220 north of the new section to be signed as a full interstate though until design deficiencies in the section through Asheboro were corrected, hence the Future I-73 (and I-74) shields in place until 2013. NCDOT sent a letter to the FHWA in July 2011 reminding them of the agreement and their plan to sign I-73 along US 220 south of Greensboro to the I-74 interchange (to open in the Spring of 2013) when the project through Asheboro was completed.7