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
Length154.640 mi[3] (248.869 km)
ExistedAugust 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
CountiesSan Bernardino
Highway system
SR 39SR 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]

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

I-40 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[5] and is part of the National Highway System,[6] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[7] I-40 is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System,[8] but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[9] 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.[10]


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.[11]

In the early 1960s, a proposal as part of Project 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.[12][13]

A sign in California showing the distance to Wilmington, North Carolina has been stolen several times.[14]

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, a 16-mile (26 km), two-lane section from the Kern–San Bernardino county line, east, which leads into a 27-mile (43 km) four-lane section with at-grade crossings. Caltrans completed an Interstate-grade bypass around Hinkley and is constructing a similar bypass around Kramer Junction (to bypass the two-lane section listed above). An extension of I-40 in California from its present terminus at Barstow to Bakersfield, and possibly as far west as Paso Robles has been proposed. The proposed I-40 extension would generally follow SR 58 to Bakersfield, and follow SR 46 to Paso Robles.[15] However, there is no current push to apply for Interstate designation. SR 46 is slowly being upgraded to Interstate standards, minus overpasses, from US 101 in Paso Robles to I-5 in Lost Hills.

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in San Bernardino County.

Barstow0.000.00 I-15 south to SR 58 west – San BernardinoWestbound exit and eastbound entrance; western terminus; no direct access to I-15 north; I-15 exit 184 southbound, 184A northbound
0.791.271 CR 66 west to I-15 north / Montara Road / East Main Street – Las VegasWest end of CR 66 overlap; former US 66
2.353.782Marine Corps Logistics Base
4.717.585 CR 66 east (Nebo Street)East end of CR 66 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Daggett7.1811.567A Street – Daggett
12.1919.6212Airport Road – Barstow-Daggett Airport
Newberry Springs18.4529.6918National Trails Highway (CR 66) - Newberry SpringsFormer US 66
23.3337.5523Fort Cady Road – Newberry Springs
28.5045.87Desert Oasis Rest Area
32.5052.3033Hector Road
Ludlow49.9880.4450Ludlow (CR 66)
78.17125.8078Kelbaker Road
99.73160.50100Essex Road – Essex
106.94172.10John Wilkie Rest Area - Fenner
Fenner107.17172.47107Goffs Road (CR 66) - EssexFormer US 66
115.19185.38115Mountain Springs Roadformer US 66 west
119.97193.07120Water Road
132.73213.61133 US 95 north (CR 66 west) – Searchlight, Las VegasWest end of US 95 / CR 66 overlap
Needles139.11223.88139River Road Cutoff (CR 66 east)Eastbound exit and westbound entrance; east end of CR 66 overlap
141.01226.93141West Broadway (I-40 Bus. east / CR 66) / River Roadformer US 66
142.37229.12142J Street – Downtown
143.76231.36144 US 95 south (East Broadway / I-40 Bus. west / CR 66) – BlytheEast end of US 95 overlap; former US 66
148.19238.49148 To US 95 south / Five Mile Road (CR 66 west) – BlytheFormer US 66
149.10239.95Agricultural Inspection Station (westbound only)
153.31246.73153Park Moabi Road
154.64248.87 I-40 east – Kingman, FlagstaffContinuation into Arizona
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Needles business loop[edit]

Interstate 40 Business
LocationNeedles, 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. ^ San Bernardino County Street Atlas (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2008.
  5. ^ California State Legislature. "Section 250–257". Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California State Legislature. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  6. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (South) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  7. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  8. ^ California State Legislature. "Section 260–284". Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California State Legislature. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  9. ^ California Department of Transportation (September 7, 2011). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  10. ^ California Department of Transportation; California State Transportation Agency (January 2015). 2014 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California. Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 40. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 30, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Anton, Mike (January 17, 2007). "Destiny in the desert". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  12. ^ "Project Carryall Marker". January 9, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "Preliminary Design Studies In A Nuclear Excavation: Project Carryall". Trb Publications Index. July 26, 1994. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  14. ^ "I-40 Barstow, Calif., sign gone for good". Star-News. November 13, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  15. ^ Subcommittee on Roads of the Committee on Public Works (April 15, 1970). "Report on the Status of the Federal-Aid Highway Program" (Hearing). United States Senate. p. 89. Retrieved June 10, 2016 – via HathiTrust. Buttonwillow via Bakersfield to Barstow

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata

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