Image of NC I-73 Shield, Courtesy of Shields Up! Segment 9 / Image of NC I-73 Shield, Courtesy of Shields Up! Segment 10

Where: I-73/I-74 "US 220 Bypass" from NC 134/Bus. 220, Ulah to US 220A near Candor

Length: 26 Miles (12 miles of new construction, 14 miles of previously existing freeway)

Status: COMPLETE*

Signed as: Image of NC I-73 shield, from Shields Up! Image of NC I-74 shield, from Shields Up!Image of US 220 shield

 *except for 14 miles of needed shoulder widening

Segment Info

The US 220 bypass was opened by May 1997 from Ulah to Steed and was the first freeway to be signed as Interstate 73 and 74.(1) The constructed bypass ran between two older sections of US 220 freeway. Later the interstate signage was extended further south to Candor on the previously existing US 220 freeway built in the 1980s.(2) This part received the Interstate designation, though it is not up to current Interstate standards. NCDOT was allowed to sign this 14-mile section as an Interstate with an agreement to fund a project to correct the remaining deficiencies in this section of the highway. Project No. I-4406 was to start in 2011 and increase the widths of the shoulders in this portion to interstate standards, 10 feet, in 2011 at a cost of $3.7 million.(3) However, in the spring of 2011, NCDOT revised its project list and defunded the project, thus technically moving it to after 2023. (4) (For examples of some of the interchange and road signage in the area see the photos below.) Exit numbers along the new freeway (along with mileposts), ran from 39 to 51 and reflected US 220's mileage, the remaining exits on the older portions were not numbered. This changed during the fall of 2013 when a contract to upgrade exit signage south of Asheboro to Ellerbe was completed. All the exit signs now have numbers reflecting I-73's mileage, matching the numbers put up on new I-73 mileposts along the freeway, and on the exits through Asheboro after construction to bring the highway up to interstate standards was completed in 2012. See the new I-73 exit number list at the bottom of the page.

Segment Photos Taken in June 2002 (Hover over image for larger view)

Photo of I-73/74 Signage near NC Zoo, Taken in June 2002Signage at the I-73/74 and US 220 Interchange with To US 220A and NC Zoo, looking East. (6/2002)


Photo of I-73/I-74 signage on road from NC Zoo, from June 2002Signage at Intersection of US 220A and the road leading back to I-73/74. The Interstate is 1/2 mile behind where the picture is taken, these signs direct people to go left or right, probably safer than trying to turn around. (6/2002)


Photo of signage for I-73/I-74 at entrance to NC Zoo in Asheboro, June 2002Signage at the entrance to the NC Zoo in Asheboro, one of the several I-73/74 sign assemblies miles from the freeway itself. (6/02)


Photos from November 2009

Photo of Original I-73/I-74 shield assembly, Nov. 2009Junction I-73/74 US 220 signage on new portion of US 220 Bypass Freeway, note signs of wear on the 12 year-old shields (11/8/09).


Photo of I-73/I-74 freeway on-ramps south of Asheboro, Nov. 2009Typical Interstate 73/74 US 220 signage at on-ramps south of Asheboro. This interchange is on the part of Interstate 73/74 signed on the newer US 220 freeway. (For a list of exits in this segment, Go to the I-73 Exit List.)


Photo of exit signage along Interstates 73 and 74 south of Asheboro, 
July 2009Signage for Exit 45, NC 705. The barrels are from a rest area under construction (see below). (11/8/09)


Photo of Exit Sign for I-73 Exit 45Another sign for Exit 45 showing the US 220 milepost the exit numbers are currently based on. (11/8/09)


Photo of exit signs along I-73/I-74 between Asheboro and Ulah, NCTypical view of route signing and freeway landscape in this segment. (11/8/09)


Photo of exit signage on I-73/I-74 south of Asheboro, Nov. 2009The last exit in this segment, and the end of this segment of I-73 and I-74, after Exit 51 in Ulah (Alternate US 220 begins here going south but is not signed). (11/8/09)


Photos from July 2012

Photo showing new exit number for Business 220/NC 134 exit off of I-73/I-74New exit number for Business 220/NC 134 Exit South of Asheboro. (7/28/12)


Photo of I-73/I-74 shield assembly at NC 211 interchange in Montgomery
County, July 2012I-73/I-74 shield assembly on NC 211 West in Candor dating to time of Interstates' extension South in 1997. (7/28/12)


Photo of Substandard shoulders along I-73/I-74 in Montgomery CountyView on North I-73/West I-74 near NC 24/27 exit showing substandard conditions of shoulders along this segment of I-73/74. (7/28/12)


Photo of Exit sign for Star/Robbins on I-73/I-74 US 220 SouthView along North I-73/West I-74 approaching Star/Robbins Exit showing substandard condition of Exit Signs (to be replaced by end of summer 2013). (7/28/12)


Photo of new I-73/I-74 sign assembly in Asheboro, July 2012View of new I-73/I-74 sign assembly just beyond now Exit 68 South/Westbound. Similar assemblies have been put up south of McConnell Road in both directions in the Asheboro segment. The remainder of the new signs will not be put up to the south until toward the end of summer of 2013. (7/28/12)


The Two 'Visitor Centers'

The only new construction on this stretch (until the shoulders are widened on the southern section*) was the building of two rest areas on the north and southbound roadways near Seagrove in Randolph County just north of the Montgomery County line. The contract (C201776) was let on February 19, 2008 and work began in 6 weeks later on April 2. The estimated completion date for these rest areas was the end of 2009. Work fell slightly behind though in 2009, particularly on the southbound side. The northbound area opened on January 15, 2010 but the southbound side was not opened until about a week later. These rest areas serve also as 'Visitor Centers' meaning they are run by local groups supporting regional tourist attractions, in this case North Carolina's Pottery Region. There was some controversy when the NC legislature passed a bill that would make the rest areas more expensive 'Welcome Centers'. The bill was criticized as an unneeded expense, since Welcome Centers are run by the state with state personnel, and ridiculed for, unlike the normal Welcome Center at the state line, these would be 50 miles from the SC border. The legislature quickly passed a bill to make them the supposedly less expensive Visitors Centers, but, as the photos show below, the complexes are still impressive.(5)

Approaching the New North I-73/West I-74 Visitors Center/Rest Area, Nov. 
2009Approaching the Northbound Visitor Center. (1/28/10)


Photo of progress in constructing rest area on I-73 South/I-74 East in 
Randolph County, Nov. 2009Construction progress on the northbound rest area in November 2009 (11/8/09)


Photo of construction progress on I-73 South/I-74 East Rest Area in 
Randolph County, Oct. 2008View in the distance from a year earlier, showing the progress made (10/20/08)


Photo of Visitor Center Building, I-73 North/I-74 West in Randolph County, 
Jan. 2010The Northbound Visitor Center itself, showing that, in size, it's similar to NC's Welcome Centers. (1/28/10)


Photo of water fountain at I-73 North/I-74 West Visitors Center in Randolph 
County, Jan. 2010The Center has a fountain in front, not the case with the Southbound Center (which has a flowing stream). (1/28/10)


Photo of South I-73/East I-74 Visitors Center under construction, Nov. 2009The southbound Visitors Center is on top of a hill overlooking the freeway, the best I could do at that time was show that the road was still one-lane in this direction and the southbound on-ramp. (11/8/09)


Photo of view of Southbound Visitors Center on I-73/I-74 in Randolph County 
of Northbound Visitors CenterThe Southbound Center is on a hill allowing a view of the surrounding landscape, including the Northbound Center. (1/28/10)


Photo of Amenities at Southbound Visitors Center on I-73/I-74 in Randolph 
County, Jan. 2010The Southbound Center features picnic tables above the Center buildings taking advantage of the hilltop location. (1/28/10)


Photo of Buildings at Southbound Visitors Center on I-73/I-74 in Randolph 
County of Northbound Visitors CenterThe Southbound Center Complex, the Center is on the right, restroom facilities on the left, behind the rest rooms are soda and food vending machines. (1/28/09)


This Segment's New Exit Number Scheme Using I-73 Mileage, Going from North to South. All of signs were switched to the new numbers in August and September 2013:(6)
Interchange                      Old Number                  New (I-73 Mileage) Number
Business 220/NC 134            51                                            68
New Hope Church Rd            49                                            66
NC 705 Seagrove                  45                                            61
Black Ankle Rd                      42                                            58
Alt US 220 Esther Steed        39                                            56
Star Robbins                       -- (36)*                                       52
NC 24/27 Biscoe                 -- (33)*                                       49
NC 211 Candor                   -- (28)*                                       44
US 220 South Candor           24                                            41 (7)

*Exit was not numbered, based on Closest US 220 Mile Marker.