Greensboro Urban Loop

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I-840.svgUS 421.svg

Greensboro Urban Loop
Completed section highlighted in red
Section under construction highlighted in dark blue
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length43.1 mi[1] (69.4 km)
Major junctions
Beltway around Greensboro
From US 29 near Browns Summit
To US 220 near Summerfield
Highway system

The Greensboro Urban Loop is a partially completed 43.1-mile (69.4 km) beltway around Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. The loop carries Interstate 73 (I-73), I-85, I-785, I-840, and U.S. Route 421 (US 421). It is primarily located within Greensboro city limits, though it crisscrosses the city line many times. The right-of-way of the Urban Loop and its interchanges between Elm-Eugene Street and Huffine Mill Road was annexed by the city of Greensboro in 2005.

Route description[edit]

The current terminus of the route is an interchange with US 29, from which the Urban Loop heads southeast as I-785/Future I-840. Turning south at an interchange with Huffine Mill Road, the road intersects US 70 shortly after. 2.2 miles (3.5 km) later, the Urban Loop comes to an interchange with I-40, I-85, and Business 85, at which point I-785 and Future I-840 both end and I-85 enters the Urban Loop as it heads southwest.

The road winds its way southwest as I-85, intersecting Youngs Mill Road and Alamance Church Road before joining with US 421 and turning west. After meeting Elm-Eugene Street, the Urban Loop comes to an interchange complex with I-73/US 220 and Business 85/US 29/US 70. Here, I-73 joins the Urban Loop from the south as I-85 leaves it to the southwest. The two interstates officially share a wrong-way concurrency for approximately 1 mile (1.6 km), though the collector-distributor roads of the interchanges cause the two routes to not share the same roadbed in either direction.

Winding its way northwest, the Urban Loop intersects Gate City Boulevard with a diverging diamond interchange and Wendover Avenue with a partial cloverleaf interchange before reaching another interchange with I-40. US 421 leaves the Urban Loop as I-840 begins, and the road continues due north as I-73/I-840. After a single-point urban interchange with Friendly Avenue, the road curves north-northeast before coming to an interchange with Bryan Boulevard. Here, I-73 leaves the Urban Loop to the west, and the road continues northeast as I-840. It turns east again after about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) before coming to its other current terminus at US 220.

Land and right-of-way property was bought for the segment between US 220 and Lawndale Drive in 2014-2015, which started construction in November 2016, and Lawndale to US 29, with work to start currently scheduled for 2018.[2][3]


Early development[edit]

A June 1948 document from the city Planning & Zoning Commission described the loop as part of "a comprehensive thoroughfare system for Greensboro." At one time, the road was a parkway similar to Wendover Avenue and named Painter Boulevard, but the city did not have enough money to build it, and federal help would require a road like an Interstate Highway.[4] It was named for Pennell Churchman Painter, the first city manager of Greensboro, serving from 1921 to 1929.[5]

Painter Boulevard appeared as a freeway loop in the 1967 City of Greensboro Transportation Plan. In June 1977, a thoroughfare plan (including what would become the Urban Loop) was adopted by the City of Greensboro, Guilford County and the North Carolina Board of Transportation. In July 1989, North Carolina Highway Trust Fund Law was enacted, which provides a trust fund for designated urban loops. By November 1989, an updated thoroughfare plan was approved by the city, county and state. Planning and environmental impact studies of the Urban Loop began in 1989-1990. In 1995, a Record of Decision was made approving the Greensboro Urban Loop; finalizing its routing and approval of a I-85 bypass. By this point, the Painter Boulevard name was no longer used.

Initial construction[edit]

In 2002, the first segment of the urban loop opened, a 2.21-mile (3.56 km) four-lane connector, today a part of I-785/Future I-840, between I-40/I-85 and US 70; it was unsigned and internally designated SR 3269. By 2006, Future I-840 trailblazers were added, though from I-40/I-85 it was only signed "To US 70." On February 21, 2004, the 12.9-mile (20.8 km) southeast segment of the urban loop opened. On completion, I-85 was rerouted onto it, leaving its old alignment through Greensboro as Business 85.[6] The southwest section between the present day I-73/US 220 interchange and the I-73/Bryan Boulevard interchanges opened in March 2008. I-73 was signed south of I-40, though north of I-40, I-73 and I-840 were unsigned. At the time, signs for each direction simply read "To I-40" and "To Bryan Boulevard."

Interstate 40 relocation[edit]

The Urban Loop and its designations since January 2004 up to October 2008.

Upon completion of the southwest section, I-40 was rerouted onto the southern portion of the loop, sharing the route with I-73 to the west and I-85 to the east. The existing I-40 through Greensboro was redesignated Interstate 40 Business (Business 40). On September 12, 2008, after complaints by local residents about traffic noise and motorists on the confusion between I-40 and Business 40 through Greensboro, NCDOT officials received permission from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to reroute I-40 back through the city of Greensboro and decommission Business 40. This left I-40 on its original route, while US 421 was rerouted onto the Urban Loop where it remains today.

Later construction[edit]

On July 31, 2013, NCDOT got approval from the FHWA to co-sign the eastern section of the Urban Loop (Future I-840) with I-785, establishing the new route in North Carolina.[7] I-785 was fully signed, replacing all of the Future I-840 trailblazers and relegating that route to future Interstate corridor signs.

The next section to go to construction was part of the northwest section between I-73/Bryan Boulevard and US 220 (Battleground Avenue) in October 2013.[8] Next was the northeast section from US 29 to US 70 in 2014.[9] In October 2017, ahead of the completion of the northwest section and as a new section of I-73 opened,[10] both I-73 and I-840 were signed on the portion of the Urban Loop between I-40 and Bryan Boulevard, marking the first time I-840 was signed as a proper route.

The northeast section was completed in December 2017,[9] signed solely as I-785 like the east section. The northwest section opened in March 2018,[8] extending I-840 to US 220.


The remaining sections of the Greensboro Urban Loop (designated as I-840 from Bryan Blvd to US 29 and I-785/I-840 south of US 29) are broken into two projects, both currently under construction:

  • Western Loop from US 220 (Battleground Avenue) to Lawndale Drive
This section is for a six-lane freeway connecting US 220 (Battleground Avenue) to Lawndale Drive in northwest Greensboro. Known as STIP Number U-2524D, it is estimated to cost $88.1 million, with property acquisition already in progress and construction started in November 2016 with completion currently scheduled for December 2020.[11][12]
  • Eastern Loop from US 29 to Lawndale Drive
This section is for a six-lane freeway connecting US 29 to Lawndale Drive, with interchanges at Yanceyville Street and North Elm Street. Known as STIP Number U-2525C, it is estimated to cost $139 million, with property acquisition tentatively scheduled for 2016 and construction tentatively scheduled for 2018.[11][13]

After the Greensboro Urban Loop is completed, NCDOT and Greensboro DOT plan to add two additional interchanges: Fleming–Lewiston Road (SR2136), and Cone Boulevard (SR2565). Plans for the additional interchanges have existed since 2004; however, because they are to be constructed after the loop's completion, there is no current time table or funding for these projects at this time.[11][14][15]

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in Guilford County.

A: I-40 east – Greensboro
B: I-40 west / US 421 north – Winston-Salem
I-840 begins
Western terminus of I-840 and northern terminus of US 421 overlap; left exit from inner loop
1.62.6104West Friendly AvenueSingle-point urban interchange
A: Bryan BoulevardDowntown
B: I-73 north – PTI–GSO Airport, Martinsville
Northern terminus of I-73 overlap; inner loop exit signed as I-73 exits 107
; outer loop exit signed as I-840 exits 3B-A
Greensboro6.810.96 US 220 (Battleground Avenue)
I-840 ends
Temporary terminus of Greensboro Urban Loop
8.413.58Lawndale DriveFuture interchange[11]
10.516.910North Elm StreetFuture interchange[11]
11.819.011Yanceyville StreetFuture interchange[11]
14.323.014A US 29 south – GreensboroRamp from outer loop to southbound US 29 under construction; access to US 29 southbound via exit 14B and U-turn
14B US 29 north – Danville

I-785 / Future I-840 begin
Temporary terminus of Greensboro Urban Loop; current northern terminus of I-785; access allowed from northbound US 29
17.928.817Huffine Mill Road
Greensboro18.930.418 US 70 (Burlington Road) / To Wendover Avenue
21.334.321 I-40 / I-85 north / I-85 Bus. south – Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh

I-785 / Future I-840 end
North end of I-85 overlap, south end of I-785 and west end of hidden I-840 overlap
23.137.2129Youngs Mill Road
25.240.6128Alamance Church Road
A: US 421 south – Sanford
B: Old US 421 – Greensboro
South end of US 421 overlap
29.647.6124South Elm–Eugene Street
A: To Groometown Road / To Grandover Parkway
B / 95: I-73 south / US 220 south – Asheboro
C: US 220 south – Greensboro, Coliseum Area
Southern terminus of I-73 concurrency; signed as exit 122 from inner loop and exit 95 from outer loop; no access from US 220 southbound to inner loop nor from outer loop to US 220 northbound; exit 122A only accessible from inner loop
A: I-85 Bus. north / US 29 north / US 70 east – Greensboro
B: I-85 south / US 29 south / US 70 south – High Point, Charlotte
C: To Groometown Road / To Grandover Parkway
South end of I-85 overlap; exit 97 signed from southbound I-73; unnumbered from southbound I-85; exit 97C only accessible from outer loop; no access from inner loop to Business 85 nor from Business 85 to outer loop
35.857.6100Gate City BoulevardDiverging diamond interchange
38.461.8102Wendover Avenue
A: I-40 east – Greensboro
B: I-40 west / US 421 north – Winston-Salem
West end of I-840 and northern end of US 421 overlap; northbound exit left
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Google (August 29, 2013). "Greensboro Urban Loop" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "NCDOT Greensboro Urban Loop Project Page". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  3. ^ "NCDOT Progress Report, Contract Number C203792". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  4. ^ Wireback, Taft (July 23, 2017). "70 years of road planning in Greensboro takes concrete shape". News & Record. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  5. ^ "This day in history". News & Record. December 15, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (May 15, 2004). "Report of the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering to the Standing Committee on Highways" (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 5. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 16, 2017. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  7. ^ "I-785 Route Change (2013-07-31)" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. July 31, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d e f "NCDOT: Greensboro Urban Loop". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  12. ^ Project Map: U-2524 (PDF) (Map). North Carolina Department of Transportation. October 25, 2010. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  13. ^ Project Map: U-2525 (PDF) (Map). North Carolina Department of Transportation. October 18, 2010. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  14. ^ "Fleming Road Extension/Western Urban Loop Interchange" (PDF). Greensboro DOT & North Carolina DOT. December 16, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  15. ^ "Cone Boulevard Extension/Eastern Urban Loop Interchange" (PDF). Greensboro DOT & North Carolina DOT. August 17, 2004. Retrieved August 31, 2013.

External links[edit]

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