North Carolina Highway 344
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2010)|
|Maintained by NCDOT|
|Length:||19.2 mi (30.9 km)|
|Existed:||2006 – present|
|South end:||Pasquotank River near mouth to Albemarle Sound|
|US 17 in Elizabeth City|
US 17 Byp. in Elizabeth City
The highway's southern terminus lies at the shores of the Pasquotank River near its mouth with the Albemarle Sound. NC 344 winds northwestward through rural Pasquotank County and the unincorporated community of Weeksville as the two-lane Salem Church and Weeksville Roads, becoming a four-lane with center turning lane thoroughfare at the main gate of Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City southeast of Elizabeth City.
NC 344 continues along for another 1.41 miles before entering the city limits of Elizabeth City at the southeastern corner of the Elizabeth City State University campus. Continuing to the southwestern corner of the Elizabeth City State University campus at its intersection with Herrington Avenue, NC 344 drops its designation of Weeksville Road, becoming Halstead Boulevard for the duration of its existence.
NC 344 continues on for another 5.2 miles as a major commercial corridor along Elizabeth City's southern border, having major intersections at US 17 Business (Ehringhaus Street) and mainline US 17 (Hughes Boulevard/ former US 17 Bypass). Continuing past mainline US 17 as the limited-access thoroughfare Halstead Boulevard Extended, NC 344 travels through the heart of an emerging retail corridor in western Elizabeth City before terminating at its junction with US 17 Bypass.
Weeksville Road, Herrington Avenue, Road and Water Streets through Elizabeth City, carried the designation of NC 170 from the 1950s, followed by NC 168 from 1958 to 1979, then most recently NC 34 before its conversion to NC 344 in 2006.
All three highways continued their route east of Elizabeth City, multiplexing with US 158 through Camden county until Belcross, with NC 170 and NC 168 continuing past Sligo, NC to the Virginia border. The creation of NC 34 in 1979 ran from the Pasquotank River to Sligo, with NC 168 running from the Virginia border to Barco, NC in Currituck County.
The previously unsigned Halstead Boulevard had become a major commercial corridor along the south side of Elizabeth City starting in the early 1990s. In 2006, NC 34 was truncated to the eastern third of its route from Belcross in Camden County to Sligo in Currituck County, leaving NC 344 to sign Weeksville Road and Halstead Boulevard to its new terminus with US 17 Bypass.