North Carolina Highway System
|North Carolina Highway System|
NC primary state route shields
|Length:||79,328 mi (127,666 km)|
|Notes:||Largest state-maintained highway network in the United States; state roads maintained by the NCDOT.|
|Interstates:||Interstate X (I-X)|
|US Routes:||U.S. Highway X (US X)|
|State:||North Carolina Highway X (NC X)|
The North Carolina Highway System consists of a vast network of Interstate Highways, U.S. Routes, and state routes, managed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Because all roads in North Carolina are maintained by either municipalities or the state, counties do not maintain roads and there is no such thing as a "county road" within the state, with the exception of Charlotte Route 4 in Mecklenburg County. As a result, North Carolina has the largest state maintained highway network in the United States.
- 1 Interstate Highways
- 2 U.S. Routes
- 3 North Carolina State Routes
- 3.1 Numbering
- 3.2 Signage
- 3.3 Rules and exceptions
- 3.4 List of NC Highways
- 4 Bike routes
- 5 Toll roads and bridges
- 6 Other routes and highways
- 7 History
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
North Carolina State Routes
North Carolina State Highways numbered under 1000 are primary state highways, and numbers greater than or equal to 1000 are secondary. Secondary highways are not signed with shields; regular green or white road signs are most commonly used to designate secondary roads. On these signs, the prefix "SR" for "secondary road" sometimes precedes the road number. Nearly all secondary highways also have other names, and many primary routes are also signed with other titles. North Carolina routes may be referred to as "North Carolina Highway x", "N.C. Highway x", "NC Route x", or just "NC x", where x is the route number.
Unlike highways in the primary system, secondary road numbers may be repeated multiple times throughout the system, provided that they are not repeated within the same county. For example, SR2000 may refer to the physical roadway signed as Wake Forest Road or Falls of Neuse Road in Wake County, or it may refer to the physical roadway signed as Hickory Grove Road in Gaston County. Some road numbers are quite common. In fact, the designation SR1101 is currently used, or has in the past, been used nearly 100 times by almost every county in the state.
Secondary roads that cross a county line are generally given a new number in the new county. For example, Rustic Court is a very short road, barely one tenth of a mile in length; yet, it crosses the Durham-Orange county line. The section in Durham County (0.03 miles in length) is designated SR2397 while the section is Orange County (0.08 miles in length) is designated SR1604. The exception to this rule applies to roads designated SR10xx (where the x's represent additional digits) which are generally given to regionally significant roads or roads crossing one or more county lines, but which are not part of the primary system. For example, SR1006-Old Stage Road, is located both in Wake and Harnett Counties.
The significance of secondary road numbers is almost exclusive to NCDOT operations, generally maintenance, rather than for navigational purposes by the driving public. Certainly, the secondary road numbering system is not organized to help unfamiliar motorists find their way. Rather, this is the job of the phonetic names, which are generally established at the local level, but which often share a sign with an SR designation for convenience. In many rural areas of the state, typically in the Mountain and Coastal Plain regions, many roads lack a phonetic name, in which case they are known by the SR designation.
It is not uncommon for maintenance responsibility of secondary roads to transfer from NCDOT to particular municipalities as they increase in size due to annexation. When this occurs, the SR designations are eliminated. The SR road designation is also eliminated from physical roadways that are elevated into the primary system. For example, NC 157 (Guess Road) in Durham and Person counties was once a secondary road designated SR1008. Although it ascended into the primary system years ago, some of the old signs identifying Guess Road as SR1008 remain.
A North Carolina Highway shield has the route's number in black inside a white equilateral diamond shape with rounded corners. A square of black surrounds the diamond shape. The diamond shape does not alter to accommodate larger route numbers; the numbers are reduced in size to fit within the diamond. Michigan is the only other state, aside from North Carolina, to have a near-identical route shield, but with pointed corners and an M in Michigan's shield.
Rules and exceptions
- North Carolina Highway numbers cannot be the same as any U.S. Highway or Interstate Highway in the state. If a new highway is commissioned in North Carolina that has the same number as a North Carolina Highway, the NC route number more than likely will be changed. (Current only exceptions: NC 73 and NC 540)
- There are no alphabetic letters in a state route designation, nor any alternate routes in the system, except for NC 226A.
List of NC Highways
NC 2 through NC 50
NC 51 through NC 100
NC 101 through NC 150
NC 151 through NC 200
NC 205 through NC 242
NC 251 through NC 294
NC 304 through NC 481
NC 522 through NC 694
NC 700 through NC 905
Former state routes
- US Bike Route 1 - Carolina Connection
- NC Bike Route 2 - Mountains to Sea
- NC Bike Route 3 - Ports of Call
- NC Bike Route 4 - North Line Trace
- NC Bike Route 5 - Cape Fear Run
- NC Bike Route 6 - Piedmont Spur
- NC Bike Route 7 - Ocracoke Option
- NC Bike Route 8 - Southern Highlands
- Sandhills Sector
Toll roads and bridges
- Cape Fear Skyway - Proposed toll road and bridge in Brunswick and New Hanover Counties.
- Garden Parkway - Proposed toll road in Gaston County.
- Mid-Currituck Bridge - Proposed toll bridge in Currituck County.
- Monroe Connector/Bypass - Proposed toll road in Union County.
- Triangle Expressway - First modern toll road in North Carolina, located in Durham and Wake Counties.
Other routes and highways
- All American Freeway, a freeway connecting Fort Bragg Military Reservation with central Fayetteville.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), a two-lane scenic route, beginning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, running near Asheville, Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain which the BRP runs along the Linn Cove Viaduct. Then the BRP passes near the Blowing Rock/Boone area and lastly, enters Virginia a few miles northeast of Sparta.
- Bryan Boulevard, a freeway spur from NC 68 to downtown Greensboro.
- Route 4, thoroughfare loop around central Charlotte.
- The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, a four-lane divided highway in southwestern North Carolina. It is broken in three sections along US 74 between US 19, near Bryson City, to Interstate 40, in Clyde.
- Greensboro Urban Loop, a beltline around Greensboro that once completed will be used for routing four Interstate highways.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway a freeway connecting I-95 to downtown Fayetteville.
- Wade Avenue, a partial freeway connecting I-40 west of Raleigh to the northern segment of the I-440 beltway in Raleigh.
- Wendover Avenue, a partial freeway connecting Interstate 40 to US 220, US 70 and US 29 in Greensboro and extends southwest to NC 68 in High Point.
The original highway numbering system for North Carolina was established in the 1920s. Major routes were multiples of 10, with 10, 20, and 90 running east/west, 30, 40, 50, 70, and 80 running north/south, and 60 running as a diagonal route. These cross-state routes were used as a basis for numbering the two-digit roads that served as the major city-city connectors. For example, NC 90 used to run along modern U.S. 64, which explains the multiple "90s" that branch off U.S. 64 today (NC 96, 97, and 98).
Three-digit numbered roads were less important spurs off the two-digit roads and often served as rural connectors. These were numbered in a scheme opposite of the U.S. and Interstate auxiliary routes; the spur routes received an extra "ones" digit instead of an extra "hundreds" digit. The first spur received the number "xx1" and the second received "xx2", where xx is the parent route number. This explains the predomination of such routes as 751, 191, 561, and the relatively few "xx0" routes (which would be the 10th assigned spur route ... few parent routes would have spurs numbered this high).
In 1933-34 many roads were renumbered to eliminate conflicts with the U.S. highways now crisscrossing the state. Some numbers (50, 90), which had become effectively U.S. routes (1 and 64 respectively) were moved or eliminated while others that conflicted with established U.S. route numbers in the state were changed to non-conflicting numbers. This seems to have been done without regard to the earlier numbering system, as were all future additions to the state highway system, which is where the modern "lack of any system" system came to be.
In 1937, several routes were renumbered to be contiguous with South Carolina routes, and in 1940 the same happened with Virginia. No effort has ever been made to match up with Tennessee or Georgia routes, but most cross-border numbered roads along this area are already U.S. highways anyway.
In the 1950s, routes that conflicted with Interstates were renumbered.
The most recent numbering change happened in 2002. Recently, NC 136 and NC 3 swapped numbers. This was to place NC 3 near Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s home of Kannapolis. The old NC 3/current NC 136 is a short spur in Currituck County. Currently, the only North Carolina highways in conflict with an Interstate number in the state are NC 73 and NC 540, the latter forming an extension of I-540.
- Hartgen, David T. & Karanam, Ravi K. (2007) (PDF). 16th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems (Report). Reason Foundation. p. 8. http://www.reason.org/ps360.pdf. Retrieved October 20, 2007.
- State Road Maintenance Unit Road Inventory Information Section (2010) (PDF). 2010 Highway and Road Mileage (Report). North Carolina Department of Transportation. http://www.ncdot.gov/travel/statemapping/download/highwayroadmileage_2010.pdf. Retrieved July 15, 2012.
- North Carolina General Assembly (August 1, 1998). "Chapter 19A: Transportation". North Carolina Administrative Code. State of North Carolina. Retrieved December 18, 2006.
- "State Highway System of North Carolina". The Virginia Engraving Company. 1921. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- "North Carolina Highway Numbering Scheme". NC Roads. Self-published. Retrieved 2006.
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