North Carolina is getting a new interstate, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday. The Federal Highway Administration has approved Interstate 285 for the 23-mile stretch of U.S. 52 between I-40 in Winston-Salem and I-85 in Lexington.
“This new interstate is great news for the Triad region and all of North Carolina,” Cooper said in a statement. “Interstates serve as a catalyst for economic growth and make it easier for people and goods to get where they need to go.”
N.C. Department of Transportation officials made the request to upgrade the highway to regular interstate status in September 2017 after completing a pavement and interchange project that brought that stretch of U.S. 52 up to interstate standards. Drivers should see the new interstate signs going up later this year.
Interstate-Guide.com explains that U.S. 52 between Lexington and Winston-Salem is already built to Interstate standards. It was originally submitted for interstate status back in 2003, but was rejected by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. It was approved in 2005, contingent upon $2.5 million in upgrades being completed.
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“We have increased safety with new designs and upgrades, with the goal of spurring efficiency and future economic development,” said a statement from NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon. “The interstate shield is a highly prized designation for new businesses.”
Making the highway an interstate has been in the plans for more than a decade, as “Future Interstate 285 Corridor” signs have been up along the route since 2006.
As part of the long-range plan to bring improved mobility to the state, North Carolina has added several interstate designations in recent years, including Interstate 87/Future Interstate 87 (Raleigh to Norfolk), future Interstate 42 (Raleigh to Morehead City) and Interstate 140 (in Brunswick and New Hanover counties).