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, is not far from interstate standards, in fact, in design it is 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 is 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.
South from US 220: Starting at Exit 95 (August 2015)
South from NC 62: Starting at On-Ramp (Feb. 2014)
South from US 311: Starting at end of US 311 South (June 2015)
North from I-74: Starting at I-74 West Off-Ramp (June 2014)
North from Business 220: Starting at On-Ramp (Feb. 2014)
Here are photos taken starting in March 2013 showing the appearance of new I-73 related signage.
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)
US 220/Future I-73 Signs at the on-ramp to US 220 North, Randleman. (10/02)
North US 220/Future I-73 signs at the US 311 exit. (10/02)
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 will be added in 2013 (Pineview St will by Exit 79) as part of a contract updating all the signing along US 220 from Greensboro to Ellerbe. Signing plans confirmed the US 311 shield is correct and indicates US 311 will leave the I-74 freeway 2 miles prior to its junction with US 220 (I-73). (7/28/12)
The new exit signage at the US 311 on-ramp from US 220 North. No exit tab on this sign, this will be Exit 81 when the route is 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 indicates this part of its current route will stay the same after the I-74 freeway is open in early 2013. (7/15/12)
A 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 will be Exit 82. (6/26/09)
This was the typical on- and off-ramps along this segment, this 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, despite no signs at the ramps, Future I-73 shields appear on the roadway, typically dwarfing the US 220 signs. These have not changed since first put up in 1997. They will be replaced in 2013 with a new I-73/US 220 North sign assembly. (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 due to the realignment of I-40 through Greensboro.(7/26/09) This will become Exit 95A in 2013.
This is how the sign approaching the Greensboro Outer Loop originally appeared earlier in 2008. (3/16/08).
I-73 currently exits off of itself since the route is using US 220 exit numbers (and sign plans indicate it will when signed this way in 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 will (finally) be replaced by a green Business 85 shield in 2013.
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 is to cost $654,000.5 They will be replacing the Future I-73 shields with official Interstate 73 shields also as part of the project. The project should be complete by October 2013. Based on plans for the contract from the NCDOT website6, here's a list of the new exit numbers, going North to South, in bold. All were changed 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 (For now, at least I-73 will exit 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,
cannot be be marked with future interstate shields, as I-73 is. 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 full interstates though until design
deficiencies in the section through Asheboro were corrected, hence the
future I-73 (and I-74) shields were put up. 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 is completed.7