Interstate 40 in California

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Interstate 40 marker

Interstate 40
Needles Freeway
I-40 highlighted in red
Route information
Defined by Streets and Highways Code § 340
Maintained by Caltrans
Length: 154.623 mi[3] (248.842 km)
Existed: August 7, 1947 by FHWA[1]
July 1, 1964 by Caltrans[2] – present
Major junctions
West end: I-15 in Barstow
  US 95 in Needles
East end: I-40 at the Arizona state line
Counties: San Bernardino
Highway system
SR 39 SR 41

In the State of California, Interstate 40 (I-40) begins on the west at its interchange with Interstate 15 in Barstow. Sometimes called the Needles Freeway, it is a major east—west highway of the Interstate Highway System that goes all the way to Wilmington, North Carolina. I-40 goes east from Barstow across the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County past the Clipper Mountains to Needles, before it crosses over the Colorado River into Arizona east of Needles. All 155 miles of I-40 in California are in San Bernardino County.

Route description[edit]

This route is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System[4] and is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System.[5] However, it is not a scenic highway as designated by Caltrans.[6] Interstate 40 from Interstate 15 to the Arizona State Line is known as the Needles Freeway, as named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 in 1968.[7] Interstate 40 goes through the Mojave Desert on its entire journey through California.

I-40 starts out at a junction with Interstate 15 in Barstow. The freeway passes through Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow before leaving the city limits. I-40 provides access to the town of Daggett but passes south of the town. After passing south of the Barstow-Daggett Airport, I-40 goes through Newberry Springs and Ludlow before traveling along the south end of Mojave National Preserve. Several miles east of the preserve, I-40 intersects US 95 and the two highways run concurrently into the city of Needles. In Needles, US 95 continues south while I-40 continues east through Mojave National Preserve and across the Colorado River into Arizona.[8]

The maximum speed limit for the entire California segment of Interstate 40 is 70 mph (110 km/h).


The segment of I-40 in California was approved as a chargeable Interstate on July 7, 1947.[1] In 1957, the California Department of Highways proposed that the route be renumbered to Interstate 30 instead because of the already existing U.S. Route 40 in the state.[2] However, this was rejected, and eventually U.S. 40 was decommissioned in favor of Interstate 80.

Today, the Needles Freeway replaced the former Route 66 across the Mojave Desert. As a result, a number of communities along the former route like Amboy have become ghost towns.[9]

In the early 1960s, a proposal as part of Operation Plowshare would have detonated 22 nuclear explosions to excavate a massive roadcut through the Bristol Mountains to accommodate a better alignment of Interstate 40 and a new rail line. This proposal was definitively abandoned in 1968.[10][11]

A sign in California showing the distance to Wilmington, North Carolina has been stolen several times.[12]

Former mileage sign at start of Interstate 40 in Barstow, California


The State of California submitted the segment of what is now State Route 58 between Barstow and Bakersfield for chargeable Interstate approval twice, in 1956 and 1968, presumably as an extension of I-40, but it was rejected both times.[1] As a result of these rejections, this segment of SR 58 is being upgraded to freeway standards piece-by-piece as Caltrans has funds available. Between Bakersfield and Barstow, SR 58 exists mostly as freeway with a few exceptions: a 12-mile (19 km) section from Mojave to California City is four lanes with at-grade intersections, and a 33-mile (53 km), two-lane section from west of Kramer Junction, through Hinkley, to Barstow. Caltrans is currently constructing an Interstate-grade bypass around Hinkley and has plans in place to construct a similar bypass around Kramer Junction when funding becomes available. Completion of the bypasses around Hinkley and Kramer Junction would leave the Mojave–California City segment of SR 58 as the last remaining non-freeway section between Barstow and Bakersfield. However, there is no current push to apply for Interstate designation.

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in San Bernardino County.

Location mi[3] km Exit[3] Destinations Notes
Barstow 0.00 0.00 I-15 south to SR 58 west – San Bernardino Westbound exit and eastbound entrance; western terminus; no direct access to I-15 north; I-15 south exit 184, north exit 184A
0.79 1.27 1 To I-15 north / Montara Road / East Main Street (CR 66 west) – Las Vegas West end of CR 66 overlap; former US 66
2.35 3.78 2 Marine Corps Logistics Base
4.71 7.58 5 Nebo Street (CR 66 east) East end of CR 66 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Daggett 7.18 11.56 7 A Street – Daggett
12.19 19.62 12 Airport Road – Barstow-Daggett Airport
Newberry Springs 18.45 29.69 18 National Trails Highway (CR 66) - Newberry Springs Former US 66
23.33 37.55 23 Fort Cady Road – Newberry Springs
28.50 45.87 Desert Oasis Rest Area
32.50 52.30 33 Hector Road
Ludlow 49.98 80.44 50 Ludlow (CR 66)
78.17 125.80 78 Kelbaker Road
99.73 160.50 100 Essex Road – Essex
106.94 172.10 John Wilkie Rest Area - Fenner
Fenner 107.17 172.47 107 Goffs Road (CR 66) - Essex Former US 66
115.19 185.38 115 Mountain Springs Road former US 66 west
119.97 193.07 120 Water Road
132.73 213.61 133 US 95 north (CR 66 west) – Searchlight, Las Vegas West end of US 95 / CR 66 overlap
Needles 139.11 223.88 139 River Road Cutoff (CR 66 east) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; east end of CR 66 overlap
141.01 226.93 141 West Broadway (I-40 Bus. east / CR 66) / River Road former US 66
142.37 229.12 142 J Street – Downtown
143.76 231.36 144 US 95 south (East Broadway / I-40 Bus. west / CR 66) – Blythe East end of US 95 overlap; former US 66
148.19 238.49 148 To US 95 south / Five Mile Road (CR 66 west) – Blythe Former US 66
149.10 239.95 Agricultural Inspection Station (westbound only)
153.31 246.73 153 Park Moabi Road
154.64 248.87 I-40 east – Kingman, Flagstaff Continuation into Arizona
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Needles business loop[edit]

Interstate 40 Business
Location: Needles, California

Interstate 40 Business is a business loop in Needles. It provides access to downtown Needles as Broadway Street.[citation needed] It also follows the former routing of US 66.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "California Highways: Interstate Highway Types and the History of California's Interstates". Retrieved November 29, 2011. [self-published source]
  2. ^ a b "California Highways: Interstate 40". Retrieved November 29, 2011. [self-published source]
  3. ^ a b c Warring, KS (January 8, 2008). "Interstate 40 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  4. ^ "CA Codes (shc:250-257)". Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "CA Codes (shc:260-284)". Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways". California Department of Transportation. December 7, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2011. 
  7. ^ 2008 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California (PDF). Caltrans. p. 74. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 14, 2012. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  8. ^ San Bernardino County Street Atlas (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2008. 
  9. ^ Anton, Mike (January 17, 2007). "Destiny in the desert". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 29, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Project Carryall Marker". January 9, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Preliminary Design Studies In A Nuclear Excavation: Project Carryall". Trb Publications Index. July 26, 1994. Retrieved January 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ "I-40 Barstow, Calif., sign gone for good". Star-News. November 13, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata

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