Two sections of U.S. 70 between Raleigh and Morehead City have been upgraded to interstate standards and will be designated as Interstate 42.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has received federal approval to designate the two U.S. 70 bypass segments in Johnston, Wayne and Lenoir counties.
The announcement was made Wednesday during a meeting of the I-42/U.S. 70 Corridor Commission in Smithfield, state officials said. The commission, which advocates for improvements along this corridor east of Raleigh, includes elected and public officials from Carteret, Craven, Johnston, Lenoir and Wayne counties.
NCDOT is working to improve passenger and freight movement between Raleigh and the North Carolina Port of Morehead City, according to the website.
“This new Interstate shows our long-term commitment to having a high mobility corridor connecting our military bases, the Morehead City port, and the communities along the corridor with the national Interstate System,” state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette, said during the meeting. “This commitment will continue to support the economic vitality of the corridor and maintain the high level of mobility.”
The I-42 approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation applies to the 10 miles between I-40 and the U.S. 70 Business interchange in Johnston County, and the 22 miles between U.S. Goldsboro Bypass in Wayne County to the N.C. 903 interchange.
NCDOT engineers still have to work out the logistics of the change, including drawing up the plans for a contractor to install the interstate signage and mile markers. A timeline is to be announced later this year.
Segments must be upgraded to interstate standards that include having fully access-controlled highways with bridges, ramps and loops and wide, paved shoulders before a I-42 signs can be installed. The department said it would continue to update the rest of the corridor to interstate standards.
The Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in 2016 gave the state conditional approval to designate U.S. 70 between Raleigh and Morehead City as future I-42.
The I-42 designation marks North Carolina’s second new interstate in eastern North Carolina. The department received permission last year from the Federal Highway Administration to designate 37 miles of U.S. 264 in Wilson, Greene and Pitt counties as Interstate 587.