Wilmington to Barstow is back

For many years, there was a sign in Wilmington commemorating the distance along I-40 from our largest port city to the end of transcontinental I-40 in Barstow, California.

The I-40 freeway made it to Wilmington in 1990 — a few years before I moved to North Carolina — and a series of signs highlighting the 2,500+ miles to Barstow were added as you left Wilmington.

To be clear:  a series of signs was necessary because the “Barstow, Calif. 2554” miles sign kept getting stolen. While a simple begin I-40 shield remains along I-40 as the designation transitions to NC 132/College Road, NCDOT had had enough by 2009 and decided that it would no longer replace the Barstow sign.

At least, until now.

The News&Observer reports that the Barstow sign has returned, in a slightly new location after the freeway begins, and hopefully in a more durable form, since Barstow is now one of three destinations on a sign, along with Raleigh and Benson.

Perhaps the new Barstow sign will again allow for poetry of the nation’s third-longest freeway.

There is also a sign for Wilmington in Barstow where I-40 begins. I saw it during a recent cross country trip; you can view it via Google maps.

As you might expect, there is also an end I-40 sign in Wilmington. It turns out that our beloved I-40 in North Carolina actually ends in a school zone; this may be one of the very few instances where an Interstate is part of a school zone, at least for a few feet.

* * * * *

Unfortunately, I-40 doesn’t end with a bang, or even in whimper, in Barstow, California.

There is no end I-40 sign. So you could say that a sign is still “missing” at the end of I-40, at least in California.

This image happens to be the last I-40 westbound reassurance sign, placed on- I-40 west just after exit 1. It sits near a city water tower, about 1.5 miles from the western terminus of I-40.

I-40 westbound travels another mile or so and then just joins I-15 south, without any indication that it is doing so, or that it has done so. After 2,500+ miles, transcontinental I-40 simply fades from one primary freeway to another primary freeway that is over 1,000 miles shorter. You travel I-40 to the end, and there is no acknowledgement of this, or even that you are joining I-15 south.

As I found on my cross-country road trip a couple of years ago, you travel to the end of I-40, and then you find yourself on I-15 south, without a reassurance shield, on the way towards Los Angeles, I-10,  aefnd Santa Monica.

Easy come, easy go.

Let’s get moving,





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