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Interstate 240 Descriptions


North Carolina:
Interstate 240 (abbreviated I-240) is a 9.1-mile (14.6 km) long Interstate Highway loop in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It serves as an urban connector for Asheville and runs in a half-circle around the north of the city's downtown district between exits 53B and 46B of Interstate 40. Between those points, Interstate 40 continues in an east–west direction further south of the city, roughly parallel to the Swannanoa and French Broad rivers. The western segment of I-240 is now being renumbered as Interstate 26 as part of a larger project extending I-26 from its former western terminus at I-40/I-240 to US Route 23 near Kingsport, Tennessee.

A planned construction project dubbed the I-26 Connector, intended to build a straighter path of I-26 through Asheville (bypassing the I-240/US 19/23/70 interchange), has recently been lowered in priority by the NC Department of Transportation. A major part of this project would have been the construction of a new interstate-standard bridge across the French Broad River. Additional plans for I-240 in west Asheville call for its expansion from 4 lanes to 8 lanes.

Years prior to the loop's completion, I-240 was known as Interstate 140; however, no signage was ever posted for I-140. The I-140 designation has now been given to a spur route in Wilmington.


In the early 1960s, the east–west Freeway around downtown Asheville, designated U.S. 19-23, opened from the Beaucatcher Tunnel westward to N.C. 191.

The next step began with the 1964 presentation by J. O. "Buck" Buchanan to the N.C. Highway Commission Board.

An interstate highway was to be built to downtown Asheville to connect with the existing freeway. The best way to do this, it was concluded, was to blast an 800-foot (240 m)-wide passage through Beaucatcher Mountain.

The Beaucatcher Mountain Defense Association, formed in the early 1970s, endorsed a tunnel, which would mean only about 5 percent of the mountain would be disturbed.

In 1977, the North Carolina Department of Transportation selected Asheville Contracting Co. for the project. 3 million cubic feet of rock would have to be moved, and all of it could be used in the construction. The company had several connections to those responsible for the road plan: company president Baxter Taylor was a business partner of Ted Jordan, a highway board member and a member of the Chamber of Commerce Highway Committee; they founded Hyde Insurance Company, which sold $39.9 million in bonds to finance the plan. And Buchanan went on to work in public relations for Asheville Contracting.

One of the Defense Association's arguments was the highway's proximity to Zealandia, the estate of Philip Henry, whose Tudor mansion was covered by the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. However, when the mansion was named to the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1977, the destruction of the mountain had started.


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