Interstate 40 or I -40 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The highway forms an east-west route through almost the entire state, leading from Waterville on the Tennessee border through the towns of Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, and Raleigh to the port city of Wilmington. Interstate 40 is 682 kilometers long.
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I-40 at Canton in Western North Carolina.
Interstate 40 in Tennessee comes from Knoxville and leads into the Appalachian Mountains through the narrow and winding valley of the Pigeon River. The border with North Carolina is crossed in an almost uninhabited area. I-40 follows a scenic route through the winding valley and rises from 450 to 800 meters above sea level. You then reach a somewhat larger valley that has many villages. Here US 19 joins as a freeway from Waynesville. I-40 then takes 2×2 lanes through a low mountain pass before reaching the valley of the town of Asheville. This is the largest city in the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina.
I-40 runs along the south side of Asheville and crosses the French Broad River. Interstate 26 and Interstate 240 follow. The passage along Asheville also has 2×2 lanes. East of Asheville, the highway rises again to over 800 meters and leads over a low mountain pass, before a winding descent into a larger valley at Marion. After this, the hills become noticeably lower and the countryside more densely populated. On the approximately 100-mile stretch from Asheville to Hickory, I-40 passes through a few small towns. At Hickory it follows an interchange with US 321, which forms a freeway to Gastonia. Then one more or less leaves the region of the Appalachian Mountains.
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I-40 at Greensboro.
I-40 on the east side of Raleigh.
I-40 then passes through the Piedmont region, a low plateau that lies between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain. This is the most populous region of North Carolina. I-40 follows a 100-kilometer stretch from Hickory to Winston-Salem through mostly wooded countryside, which is relatively densely populated. At Statesville it follows an interchange with Interstate 77. I-40 holds 2×2 lanes until just before Winston-Salem. It crosses the Yadkin River west of the city, after which I-40 has 2×3 lanes until Winston-Salem. There are two routes through Winston-Salem, the southern bypass of I-40 and the Interstate 40 Business that runs downtown.
On the south side of Winston-Salem, Interstate 285 to Lexington and Interstate 74 to High Point intersect in quick succession. Part of I-40 still has 2×2 lanes between I-74 and the eastern interchange with I-40 Business at Kernersville. After that, both traffic flows are combined on I-40 and the highway has 2×4 lanes. I-40 then passes through the city of Greensboro. The passage of I-40 through Greensboro has 2×3 lanes. There are interchanges with Interstate 73 and [[Interstate 840 in North Carolina|Interstate 840], which forms the Greensboro ring road.
On the east side of Greensboro, a 50-mile double-numbered intersection begins with Interstate 85. This section has 2×4 lanes and passes through Burlington. Just before Durham, the two routes split again, after which I-40 veers southeast. I-40 then forms the South Bypass of Durham and has 2×2 to 2×3 lanes here. Between the cities of Durham and Raleigh are extensive business parks around the interchanges with NC-147 and Interstate 540. I-40 has 2×4 lanes here into Raleigh.
Then, I-40 forms the southern bypass of Raleigh but runs fairly close to downtown. This section of I-40 has 2×3 to 2×4 lanes and interchanges with US 1 from Sanford and Interstate 440, which forms the small ring road from Raleigh. I-40 then heads south and has some 2×3 lanes before the highway narrows to 2×2 lanes in the outer suburbs of Raleigh.
Atlantic Coastal Plain
I-40 at Wilmington.
I-40 then heads south to southeast through the North Carolina coastal plain. This region is relatively sparsely populated. There are no sites of significance on the nearly 200-mile stretch from Raleigh to Wilmington. At Clayton, Interstate 42 branches off to the east and at Benson it intersects with Interstate 95. I-40 temporarily passes through an area with more meadows here. This area of North Carolina is agricultural in character.
I-40 continues south to the coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina’s primary coastal city. On the north side of Wilmington, one intersects with Interstate 140, which forms the city’s bypass. Shortly thereafter, I-40 becomes US 117, an urban arterial that continues into downtown Wilmington.