Image of NC Interstate 74 shield (from Shields Up!) Segment 5

Map of I-74 Segment 5, US 311 freeway east of Winston-Salem, from NCDOT 2017-2018 Map

Where:   Former US 311 Freeway, from end of Winston-Salem Beltway, Forsyth County to North Main Street, High Point, Guilford County

Length:    Approx. 7 Miles

Completed:   August 2014*

Signed As: Image of NC Interstate 74 shield (from Shields Up!) 

Segment Information

I-74 is to be routed from the southern end of the planned Winston-Salem Northern Beltway onto the existing US 311 freeway to the new US 311 Bypass of High Point. From the chosen alternative for the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway Eastern Half Extension, the Beltway and US 311 will meet about a mile west of the Union Cross Road interchange. The segment then runs east about 7 miles to Exit 65, the former US 311 exit in High Point. The segment received its I-74 signage in August 2014, all the way to I-40, a distance of about 10 miles, the extra three miles being a temporary connection until the Winston-Salem Beltway is completed. This was a lot earlier than many people expected, and, as it turned out, was largely due to a mistake by the FHWA. Details are below. In March 2018, NCDOT stated it planned to truncate the US 311 designation at US 52 in Winston-Salem meaning the segment will be simply signed as I-74 by the end of 2019.1 AASHTO approved of this request at the May 21, 2018 meeting of its Special Committee on US Route Numbering.2 Here's a map of the decommissioned US 311:

Image of Winston-Salem Journal map of decommissioned US 311 along I-74 east of Winston-Salem

In April 2020, NCDOT contractors removed US 311 signs from along I-74 and I-40 in Forsyth County. Here's one of revised signs on I-40 West at the now simply I-74 East exit, courtesy of  J. Austin Carter:

Image of overhead signs on I-40 West at I-74 in Winston-Salem with US 311 shields removed, by J. Austin 
                                         Carter in April 2020

Initial Plan for I-74 Routing

When the I-74 route was created in 1997 it was thought the existing US 311 freeway needed to be upgraded to Interstate standards before it could be signed as I-74. There had never been any mention in the NDOT STIP documents since 1997, however, about a project to upgrade this roadway. The only construction that took place on this segment for the first decade was that during the summer of 2002 NCDOT had a construction crew repaving US 311 and widening the shoulders of the highway at a cost of $4.4 million, however, from appearances(as seen in the photos below), it appeared the widening was not quite to interstate standards.4 It was suggested in the meanwhile that maybe NCDOT was considering to request a waiver from the FHWA to allow them to sign this segment as I-74 once the Winston-Salem Beltway connection was completed, however, due to continuing delays with this project, by 2008 it appeared this might not occur until sometime in the 2020s.

The first appearance of I-74 Signage

In the summer and fall of 2008 though, NCDOT contractors started putting up new exit signs along this segment with I-74 milepost numbers, including the current US 311 exits with Ridgewood Road and I-40, even though that are not along the proposed path of I-74.5 (For a complete list of exits go to the I-74 Exit List.) Later, in December 2008, NCDOT also put up Future I-74/US 311 signage along the same stretch all the way to I-40.6 Speculation at the time on the reasoning behind extending I-74 signage and exit numbers to current I-40 could be that NCDOT was not convinced the Beltway route may be the final I-74 route (see I-74 Segment 4 for more information) or they wanted a continuous I-74 route to be signed if the rest of the surrounding I-74 segments are completed before the Beltway, or if there was a significant delay in constructing the final segment to US 311. If US 52 is upgraded through Winston-Salem first, conceivably I-74 could take that to I-40, then east to US 311, at least temporarily.5 NCDOT in 2011 funded a feasibility study to look at upgrading the I-40 US 311 interchange that could be part of that process. In a somewhat confusing move, on the Guilford County part of this roadway, they also replaced one of the two Future Interstate 74 Corridor signs (the one heading west) similar to the one seen on the AARoads website.

Interstate 74 Arrives Sooner Than Expected

In April 2012 though speculation ended, NCDOT sent a letter to the FHWA asking that they officially add this segment (all of US 311 in Forsyth County west to I-40) to the interstate system as a Future Interstate Route.7 They told the Regional administrator that they would work with their District 9 office to expedite the placement of signs quickly after they got the approval. This was odd given that Future I-74 signs have been up for four years. In October 2012 NCDOT did receive a reply from the FHWA. From the wording in the letter, it appeared that NCDOT, at the request of the FHWA Regional Office, had investigated the possibility that the US 311 freeway could be considered interstate standard. Despite the findings of NCDOT engineers sent to investigate, that the shoulders along US 311 in Forsyth County were not up to interstate standards, NCDOT was granted permission to sign the route from I-40 east (including the East Belt freeway (see I-74 Segment 6) to the freeway's current end at Cedar Square Road, a total of 22.1 miles) as I-74.8 On March 4, 2013, as the result of this approval, it was reported that NCDOT planned to put new I-74 signs along the US 311 route during the summer of 2013.9 However, no sign project took place during the summer nor during the rest of 2013.10 In April 2014, a project to place I-74 signs along US 311 was finally advertised by NCDOT. The Division 9 project (Contract DI00053; TIP I-5511) was let on May 14, 2014 and, many weeks after NCDOT gave permission to start on June 2, began on August 7 and was completed by November 2014.11 Given the small amount of work needed (the winning bid was only $79,000), however, most, if not all the I-74 signage was in place by the end of third week of August.12

Signing I-74 a Mistake?

In late August 2014, after most, if not all the new signage was placed, a report appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal by Wesley Young, widely reprinted elsewhere in the Triad area, that the signing of I-74 was due to a mistake by the FHWA's regional office in interpreting the April 2012 letter from NCDOT. As indicated above, the letter talked about two segments of I-74, the recently completed East Belt project NCDOT wanted signed as I-74 and the Forysth County US 311 freeway which NCDOT asked to be designated Future I-74, that was constructed in the 1970s. The April letter reaffirmed a previous letter sent to Raleigh in 2011 that had stated the 'requested sections of I-74 were built to Interstate Standards at the time of construction" (emphasis added). Apparently the regional office took that to mean both segments were of current interstate standards and forwarded the letter to the Secretary's office in Washington for approval. The October 2012 letter from Deputy Director Mendez granted the I-74 designation to the entire freeway east of I-40 saying "Our North Carolina Division Office confirms U.S. 311 from I-40 to S.R. 1993 [Main Street in High Point] has been completed to Interstate standards." When the mistake was realized later, the FHWA gave NCDOT permission to keep the signs up as long as the agency planned to upgrade the segment to interstate standards as part of a future rehabilitation project for the roadway. No project is currently planned though, according to an NCDOT official.13 A repaving contract let in February 2016 had plans that suggested the possibility of widening the shoulders, possibly to interstate standards. A cross-section of the paving plan from the contract documents is below 14. A check of Google Maps Street View images taken of work completed in November 2016, however, showed while the shoulders may have been widened a little, they still were not wide enough for an interstate.

NCDOT plan for repaving I-74 in Spring of 2016

Finally, here's a map from Journal article that shows the extent of I-74 signage after the completed sign work in 2014, and the remaining segments of I-74 planned in the Triad area:13

Map showing new segment of I-74 signed and relation to 
path of I-74 around Winston-Salem, courtesy of Winston-Salem Journal, August 2014Map courtesy of Winston-Salem Journal, June 28, 2019.3

Here's a photo of the new signage along I-40 East, courtesy of Andrew Dye of the Winston-Salem Journal:

Image of exit signage for I-74/US 311 on I-40 East in Forsyth County

Before August 2014, the only evidence of I-74 along US 311 was this trailblazer installed on I-40 East prior to the future I-74/ US 311 South exit, photo courtesy of J. Austin Carter:

Image of I-74 East trailblazer on I-40 East prior to US 311 exit in Forsyth County. Photo courtest of J. Austin Carter.

Signing Plans

In May 2019, NCDOT posted signing plans for a contract that would both update signage along US 52 between I-40 and I-85 to reflect it's new designation as Interstate 285 but also the 2014 signage along I-40 and I-74 in Forsyth County to reflect the decommissioning of US 311. Here are some of the sign plans for I-74. The contract is to be let on September 25, 2019 and changes are planned for later in the fall:15

Westbound signage at I-40, which will include the placement of and End I-74 sign, and an Exit 55 tab on the overhead signs for I-40 East:

Image of NCDOT plan for updated signs at I-74 west interchange with I-40 east of Winston-Salem

The current reassurance marker signs will be replaced by standard single-post I-74 reassurance markers:

Image of NCDOT plan to replace reassurance marker sign with standalone shield on I-74 East in Forsyth County

The recently updated signs at Union Cross Road will be modified as well (as with other ramps signs):

Image of NCDOT sign plan for modified ramp signag for I-74 at Union Cross Road interchange in Forsyth County

When the new I-74 Northern Beltway is completed, NCDOT plans to sign the former I-74 west of the Beltway interchange as NC 192.3

Earlier Sign Plans

The plans below indicate what the I-74/US 311 exit and guidance signs appear as after they were installed along I-40 and US 311 from Winston-Salem to High Point in August 2014, see Photos section for the actual signs (the plans will stay up until more photos of the real signage can be posted):

A. Guide Signs. These replaced the Future I-74/US 311 signs (see photos of earlier signs below), five in each direction after Exits 65, 63, 60, 59 and 56 westbound and 55, 56, 59, 60 and 63 eastbound:

Image of signage plan for I-74 East/US 311 South signs in Forsyth County 2014

Eastbound above and westbound below:

Image of sign plans for West I-74/North US 311 Guide signs in Forsyth County 2014

B. Signs on East I-40

These signs replaced the Exit 196 US 311 overhead signs at 1 1/2 miles, 1/2 mile and at the exit ramp, and will be replaced again in the fall of 2019:

Image of plan for I-40 exit sign for I-74 East in Forsyth County 2014

C. Sign on I-40 West

This is the sign replaced the current US 311 exit sign at the westbound exit ramp, see photo below.

Image of signage plan for I-40 exit to I-74/US 311

D. To I-74 Signs

NCDOT is also going to place two 'To I-74' guide signs at the US 52-311/I-40 interchange in Winston-Salem. The first will be on I-40 West:

Image of sign plan for To I-74 sign on I-40 West in Winston-Salem, from NCDOT

The second will be on US 52/US 311 South:

Image of Sign Plan for T0 I-74 Sign on US 52 South in Winston-Salem, from NCDOT

The final new sign will be on I-74 West prior to the North Main St exit in High Point, replacing the existing left-side sign with only a US 311 overhead:

Image of signage plan for I-74 West/US 311 North sign in Guilford County, from NCDOTAll Plans courtesy of NCDOT.15

The plans did not indicate the placement of any I-74 signs at on-ramps along US 311 under this contract. Signs were still not present in the weeks since the overhead signs were installed. It is possible that NCDOT crews will install these signs themselves around the same time as the contractor is placing those under the signing contract.

Exit Numbers for this Segment

The following I-74 Exit Numbers were applied to this segment in November 200816:

Exit 55 I-40 East Greensboro (WB, US 311 merges with I-40 West)*
Exit 56 Ridgewood Rd*
Exit 59 Union Cross Rd
Exit 60 High Point Rd
Exit 63 NC 66, Kernersville
Exit 65 No. Main St, High Point,   DOWNTOWN**

*Not along currently planned I-74 alignment.

**The original sign read Business US 311 High Point [DOWNTOWN]. In November 2009 NCDOT requested, and AASHTO approved, the decommissioning of Business 311 through High Point. The signs were changed in 2010 as a result.

"Drive" This Segment Using Google Maps Street View

I-74 East/US 311 South at I-40: From I-40 East Off-Ramp (June 2019)

I-74 West/US 311 North at Union Cross Road: From Off-ramp to Union Cross Road (January 2017)

I-74 West/US 311 North at No. Main Street: From traffic light prior to No. Main Street On-Ramp (June 2019)

Photos From This Segment (Hover Over for Larger Image)

Images from Google Maps Street View taken between 2017 and 2019:

Image of West I-74/North US 311 reassurance marker sign following NC 66 Kernersville exit, 
        Google Maps Street View image taken in January 2017West I-74/US 311 North reassurance marker sign after the NC 66 exit, image from January 2017.

Google Maps Street View image of West I-74/North US 311 ramp trailblazers on NC 66 
        North in Kernersville, taken in July 2018Trailblazers at ramp to West I-74/North US 311 from NC 66 North, image from July 2018.

Google Maps Street View image of first East I-74/South US 311 reassurance marker sign after 
        I-40 interchange in Winston-Salem, taken in June 2019The first East I-74/South US 311 reassurance marker sign after the I-40 interchange in Winston-Salem, taken in June 2019.

Photos of interchange signage contributed by J. Austin Carter in May 2016:

Image of new guide signs for I-74 and US 311 put up on widened Union Cross Rd, from J. Austin CarterNew guide signage placed along newly widened Union Cross Road at its interchange with I-74 and US 311 (to have US 311 shields removed in the fall of 2019).

Image of I-74 and US 311 trailblazers at newly reconfigured Union Cross Rd interchange, from J. Austin CarterView of I-74 and US 311 trailblazers in the distance from eastbound I-74 off-ramp from Union Cross Road.

Image of back of I-74 and US 311 trailblazers at interchange with Ridgewood Road in Forsyth County, from J. Austin CarterView of the back of I-74 and US 311 trailblazers along Ridgewood Road at its interchange with I-74.

Image of I-74 and US 311 trailblazers along Ridgewood Road in Forsyth County, from J. Austin CarterView of East I-74 and South US 311 trailblazers from on-ramp from West I-74 to Ridgewood Road in Forsyth County.

Photos from after the new I-74 Signage was put in place in 2014:

Image of new I-74 signage along I-40 West in Forsyth County, from Jason IlyesNew I-74 East/US 311 overhead signage approaching interchange on I-40 East in Forsyth County in August 2014, would last less than 6 years. Photo courtesy of Jason Ilyes.

Image of I-40 West interchange with I-74 East/US 311 South from NCDOT traffic cameraSeen in the distance in this NCDOT traffic camera along I-40 East a 1/2 mile from the I-74 interchange is the I-74 shield in the new exit sign for I-74 East/US 311 South. (8/15/14)

"Classic" Photos of this segment, starting in November 2002:

Photo of signage at US 311 interchange with High Point Road, Nov. 2002US 311 intersection with High Point Road (Old US 311)

Photo of US 311 signage at High Point Road exit on-ramp, Nov. 2002Sign assemblies at US 311 South On-ramp at High Point Road

Photo of US 311 signage at High Point Road Exit On-ramp, Nov. 2002A closer look at the US 311 signs at the High Point Road exit

Photo of view of US 311 from High Point Rd Bridge, Nov. 2002View of US 311 to the West at High Point Road bridge.

Photo of US 311 South from High Point Rd Bridge, Nov. 2002View East of US 311 South from same location showing new pavement put down during the Summer of 2002.

Photos taken of sign construction on July 20, 2008:

Photo of sign posts being installed along US 311 for Future I-74 signThis shows posts being installed for future I-74/US 311 signage (next to the US 311 sign) to be put on a green sign, now standard NCDOT practice for multiple route highways, and a new exit sign for High Point Road which will have I-74 exit numbers.

Photo of closeup of future sign posts along US 311/Future I-74 at High Point Road, July 2008Here's a closer view of the posts for the new High Point Rd exit sign set right behind the existing sign. Also notice the exit gore sign in the background the metal posts have been removed for most of them, instead they are being placed on temporary wood posts.

Photos taken of sign construction in the November and December 2008:

Photo of new exit signage along US 311/Future I-74 near High Point, Dec. 2008NCDOT replacing the exit signs along US 311. The first exit is for High Point Road, now Exit 63 (12/14/08)

Photo of First Future I-74/US 311 sign heading north on US 311, Dec. 2008Here was the first Future I-74 sign going westbound after the NC 66 exit, notice the I-74 shield is similar to ones put up for I-295 in Fayetteville and not the I-73/74 segment near Ellerbe. This is to be replaced by the summer of 2014. (12/14/08)

Photo of new exit sign on US 311/Future I-74 for High Point Road, Nov. 2008The next exit is for High Point Road (Old US 311), Number 60. (11/23/08)

Photo of exit and exit gore sign for High Point Road on US 311/Future I-74 in Nov. 2008This photo shows the numbered exit sign and gore sign for High Point Road. (11/23/08).

Photo of new exit signage for Union Cross Road on US 311/Future I-74 in Nov. 2008Signage for the next exit westbound, Exit 59, used to access the now closed Dell plant, Union Cross Road. (11/23/08)

Photo of new exit signage at off-ramp for Exit 59 on US 311/Future I-74 in Nov. 2008Here's the entrance ramp for Exit 59. Widened to two lanes in expectation of Dell plant traffic. (11/23/08)

Photo of the new I-74 mile marker on US 311/Future I-74 East, July 2012Mile marker for I-74 East Mile 58 between the Union Cross and High Point Road interchanges. Installed two years before I-74 was actually signed. (7/15/12)

Photo of last new exit sign going west on US 311/Future I-74, Dec. 2008The last exit going westbound is for Ridgewood Road, Exit 56. (12/14/08)

Photo of exit signage in vicinity of Ridgewood Road exit on US 311/Future I-74 in Dec. 2008As the sign after the Ridgewood Road exit sign indicated, the ramp is just inside the Winston-Salem city limits. (12/14/08)

Photo of I-40 exit signage at the western end of the US 311/Future I-74 freeway in Nov. 2008The old sign for the I-40 East Exit can be seen beyond the on-ramp to Ridgewood Road. (11/23/08)

Photo of remaining sign posts for possible new exit sign at the end of the US 311/Future I-74 freeway, Sep. 2009Here's posts for an additional Future I-74/North US 311 sign after the Ridgewood Road exit, put up in 2008. The posts were in the same condition in the summer of 2012. (9/18/09)

Photo of I-40 exit signage at west end of US 311/Future I-74 freeway in Winston-Salem, Sep. 2009The last exit westbound, though the signs do not have numbers, the I-40 East exit gore sign indicates it is numbered 55. I-74 traffic is supposed to follow I-40 West/US 311 North to the US 52 freeway. (9/18/09)

Photo of Ridgewood Road exit sign at beginning of US 311/Future I-74 Freeway east, Dec. 2008The first exit eastbound for Segment 5 is for Ridgewood Road, the first Future I-74/South US 311 sign can be seen in the background. These are to be replaced by summer 2014. (12/14/08)

Photo of first Future I-74/South US 311 sign after Ridgewood Rd exit, Dec. 2008Here's a closer look at the first eastbound Future I-74 sign, NCDOT indicating it was not an interstate with the nonofficial 74 shield. (12/14/08)

Photo of closeup of Future I-74/South US 311 sign near Winston-Salem, Dec. 2008A closer look at the Future I-74 signage shortly after installation in the fall of 2008. Notice the distance of the sign from the roadway and the width of the shoulders, though not up to interstate standards, NCDOT got permission to sign I-74 in 2014 with the promise of an upgrade in the near future. (12/14/08)

Photo of new exit sign for NC 66 exit on US 311/Future I-74 East, Dec. 2008The last exit sign going eastbound in Forsyth County is for NC 66. (12/14/08)

Photo of pre-existing exit sign for former US 311 Business exit in High Point in April 2010From April 11, 2010: The exit signs for the only exit on this segment in Guilford County, for Business 311, didn't change, just the exit number to 65. However, a tornado in March 2010 blew the overhead signs down.18

Photo of Exit 65 overhead sign replacement from NCDOT Traffic Camera No. 38 on May 26, 2010The right-hand sign above was replaced on May 26, 2010 as shown here on one of the City of High Point's traffic camera's (Number 38), unfortunately a reverse angle, but based on information from Bill Travers, the sign had been changed, dropping Business 311 to just read North Main Street, High Point, Downtown.19 No sign was added on the left side, until new signs were put up reading East I-74 South US 311, Asheboro later in the year.10 The small sign facing the camera is the last Future I-74 Corridor sign left on this segment.(5/26/10)