Transportation in North Carolina (Highways)   

Created by Lamara Jones and Denise Jones

Years covered by this guide: 1915 - present

This guide provides publications, maps, reports and other information about the highways of North Carolina now, in the past and even looking into the future.  The NC Department of Transportation has more than 80,000 miles of highways.  (Texas is the only state that has more.)   The 80,000 miles include nearly 15,000 miles of primary highways (US and NC routes) and nearly 65,000 miles of secondary roads.  In addition to the highways, NC Department of Transportation maintains more than 13,500 bridges.   North Carolina also over 8.7 registered vehicles and 6.9 million licensed drivers traveling on those highways and bridges. 

Serial publications

North Carolina Department of Transportation Annual Performance Report
These reports began with the organization of the State Highway Commission in 1915.  Even the earliest reports included photographs and maps. These reports began as biennial reports but later became annual reports. 
Paper availability: 1915 - 2011
Digital availability: 1915 - 2015
Alternative names: Biennial report - North Carolina Department of Transportation; Biennial report of the State Highway Commission of North Carolina

North Carolina Traffic Crash Facts
Crash Facts is the annual report of traffic accident statistics for North Carolina streets and highways. Newer reports have crash data that includes driver and pedestrian data, vehicle data, and county crash data. Older reports have time and weather statistics for accidents, circumstances and conditions that led to accidents, and age, sex and race of those injured and killed.
Paper availability: 1974 - 2004
Digital availability: 1960 - 2014
Alternate names: Traffic accident facts; North Carolina traffic accident facts; North Carolina traffic crash facts

North Carolina Transportation Map
Here is the map that usually travels in your car's glove compartment ready for quick reference when you are traveling in North Carolina. With this collection of maps you can see how the interstate highway system spread across North Carolina. Some maps have tourist information, mileage tables, and local route maps.
Paper availability: 1923 - 2015/2016
Digital availability: 1916 - 2015/2016
Alternate names: State highway system of North Carolina; 1938-1953, North Carolina primary highway system; 1954-1959, North Carolina; 1960-1961, North Carolina highway system; 1962, North Carolina highway map; 1963-1991, North Carolina official highway map

North Carolina Highway Safety Program
The Highway Safety Program promotes highway safety awareness with the goal of reducing the number of traffic crashes and fatalities in the state of North Carolina through the planning and execution of safety programs. Projects are selected and based on the goals outlined in the Highway Safety Plan.  Specific goals include reducing fatal crashes caused by young drivers, older drivers, alcohol and speed.
Paper availability: 1972 - 2011
Digital availability:  2007 - 2016
Alternate names: North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program. Benchmark report & highway safety action plan; Highway safety plan

Monograph publications

Comprehensive transportation plans
Comprehensive transportation plans (CTPs) are prepared by NCDOT's Transportation Planning Branch. The Transportation Planning Branch works with local municipalities, counties and large metropolitan areas across the state to develop plans for North Carolina's transportation system. These comprehensive transportation plans represent a community’s consensus on the future transportation system, including the existing system and improvements, needed to support anticipated growth and development over 25-30 years.  CTPs replaced the thoroughfare plans that had been developed since the 1950s.  In 2001 the North Carolina General Assembly amended the state transportation planning law (NCGS 136-66) replacing the thoroughfare plan requirement with the multi-modal CTP.  Processes for developing CTPs and the products (CTP maps and documents) are different than thoroughfare plans.  The CTP multi-modal plan identifies existing and future transportation systems, including highways, public transportation, rail, bicycle and pedestrian facilities needed to serve current and anticipated travel demand. 
Paper availability: 2004 – present
Digital availability: 2004 - present
Thoroughfare plans
Before there were CTPs there were thoroughfare plans which identified the existing and proposed highway networks needed to handle existing and future traffic.  Thoroughfare plans were the predecessor of today's Comprehensive Transportation Plans. Maps and documentation for thoroughfare plans were less than those now part of CTPs.
Paper availability: 1957 - 2005
Digital availability: 1963 - 2005

Research reports
The NC Department of Transportation's Research & Analysis Unit oversees transportation-related research that investigates materials, operations, planning, traffic and safety, structures, human environments, natural environments, and more. The Research & Analysis unit solicits, selects, and monitors all State Planning and Research-funded research projects, which are conducted primarily by state colleges and universities and eventually result in these detailed published reports.
Paper availability: 1999 - present
Digital availability: 1999 - present

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