The last eight-mile leg of a long-awaited bypass project has opened in Randolph County. The section of Interstate 74 that replaces part of old U.S. Hwy. 311 near Sophia opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Fri. morning, Jun. 7.
According to N.C. Department of Transportation estimates, the route reduces by 20 minutes the time needed to commute from Asheboro and points south to High Point and Winston-Salem. It also provides a shorter connection to I-40 West and I-77 North.
The highway segment was originally slated for opening last October, but was delayed several times.
“The $99.7-million dollar design-build project, which included the construction of six bridges plus fly-over ramps at I-73/U.S. 220, had been under way since Sept. 2008,” said a spokesperson for N.C. DOT. “The design-build method allowed the design, permitting, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation and construction to take place at the same time under one contract.”
Friday’s ceremony also included the official addition of I-73 and I-74 to the Blue Star Memorial Highway system. The Blue Star project was first organized in 1944 by the National Garden Clubs to pay tribute to U.S. armed forces and now includes more than 70,000 miles of highway across the country.
With the highway opening, the portion of U.S. 220 between U.S. 311 and the Montgomery County line is now officially designated as “I-73/74”.