US 17 in North Carolina

US 17 in North Carolina


US 17
Get started Thomasboro
End South Mills
Length 292 mi
Length 470 km
South Carolina




New Bern





Elizabeth City


According to iamaccepted, US 17 is a US Highway in the US state of North Carolina. The road forms a north-south route through the east of the state, and despite being quite far inland, it is the easternmost north-south route in the state. The road runs from the South Carolina border through Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern, and Elizabeth City to the Virginia border. The road is 470 kilometers long.

Travel directions

US 17 north of Wilmington.

At Thomasboro, the 2×2 US 17 in South Carolina enters the state of North Carolina from Myrtle Beach, a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean. The road serves many coastal towns and then curves a little further inland, through the Green Swamp in Brunswick County. The road is a through 2×2 trunk road into the city of Wilmington. Wilmington is reached from the west, the city has 100,000 inhabitants and is the main port of North Carolina. US 17 briefly becomes a short double -numbered highway with US 74 and US 76 coming west from Whiteville. The US 17 then crosses the US 421along the west side of the Cape Fear River to the north, along the west side of Wilmington. US 17 then continues over Interstate 140, which carries the northern bypass of Wilmington. The road passes through New Hanover County here, and has an interchange with Interstate 40, the highway from Raleigh. Northeast of Wilmington, the highway ends, and US 17 continues along the coast as a 2×2 trunk.

The road then enters the Holly Shelter Swamp in Pender County. This area is fairly sparsely populated, and US 17 runs north a few miles from the coast. One then enters Onslow County, and the road passes through the vast Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps Base. Then the road leads to Jacksonville, a small town of 70,000 inhabitants. Past Jacksonville, US 17 forms a southern bypass, and US 258 begins here and runs to Kinston. The US 17 runs a lot further inland here, because the east coast protrudes a lot further into the sea with all kinds of islands, the so-called Outer Banks.

US 17 in New Bern.

US 17 then becomes a single-lane highway and passes through wooded Jones County. One then enters Craven County, near the town of New Bern, which lies on the Neuse, an estuary that goes quite far inland. Here it crosses US 70, which forms a highway to Goldsboro and Raleigh, and further east to Atlantic in the Outer Banks. US 17 then continues as a single-lane main road, passing through a coastal area with quite a bit of forest, but also some meadows. In Beaufort County, one passes through the town of Washington, where one intersects US 264, an east-west route from Greenville, Wilson, and Raleigh to Nags Head in the far east of the state, some 200 miles to the east.

The road then continues north to Williamston in Martin County. It crosses US 64, which forms a through highway to Rocky Mount and Raleigh, and a 2×2 trunk road to Nags Head to the east. The US 13 from Greenville then merges, and the US 13 and US 17 then form a double numbering of 20 kilometers and 2×2 lanes to Windsor. Here US 17 heads east, and US 13 heads north, with both roads finally reaching Norfolk, Virginiaget back together. The road then continues east through Bertie County on 2×2 lanes, crossing the Albemarle Sound, a large estuary. This area has less forest and more open spaces. US 17 runs to Elizabeth City, a small town, where US 17 runs as a 2×2 highway along its west side, bending north. This is where US 158 crosses, which runs from Roanoke Rapids to Nags Head. US 17 then continues as 2×2 lanes through the Great Dismal Swamp, a vast swamp area on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. US 17 in Virginia then continues to Norfolk.


According to Acronymmonster, US 17 was created in 1926 and followed a series of state routes. Originally there was a branch from Wilmington to Goldsboro called the US 17-1. Now this is US 117.


The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in Wilmington.

Parts of US 17 have been upgraded to a 2×2 divided highway over the years. This began in the form of approach roads to the larger cities on the route in the 1960s, such as at Wilmington, Jacksonville, New Bern, Washington and the Williamston – Windsor section, as well as at Elizabeth City. In the 1980s, US 17 between the South Carolina and Wilmington border was fully widened to 2×2 lanes, mainly because of the accessibility of the beaches in both states. The upgrade was largely completed in the early 1990s.

In 1969, the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge over the Cape Fear River in Wilmington opened to traffic. This is a large lift bridge with a lifting span of 124 meters in length. This is one of the largest lift bridges in the world.

In the 1980s, the stretch from Elizabeth City to the Virginia border was also widened to 2×2 lanes. Later, the focus of widenings was shifted to the section between Jacksonville and New Bern. A major bottleneck for through traffic was the junction of the Neuse River, traffic originally passed through downtown New Bern. In 1999, a new freeway bridge opened over the Neuse River, allowing traffic to use the New Bern bypass instead of going downtown. In 2011, a partial western bypass of New Bern opened as a freeway, which is being prepared for a northward extension. In 2018, a 2×2 diversion opened along Maysville. Between October 2015 and November 2017, a 12-kilometer bypass of US 17 was constructed around Pollocksville near New Bern. This bypass is constructed asfreeway and was part of a total 25-kilometer upgrade of US 17 in this region. The bypass was opened to traffic on 14 November 2019. The road between Maysville and Pollocksville has also been widened to a 2×2 divided highway, creating a 2×2 route between Jacksonville and New Bern.

Some more upgrades were made later in northeast North Carolina. During the 1990s, US 17 between Edenton and Elizabeth City was gradually widened to 2×2 lanes. In 1953, a 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) bridge over the Chowan River, which had a swing bridge in the middle, opened. This was replaced in the early 2000s by a 2.9 kilometer long bridge with 4 lanes. A part west of the bridge was also widened to a 5-lane road with center turn laneto the east of Windsor. About 2008, an extension of the Windsor bypass opened. Windsor’s original bypass was built in the 1960s, but it was mainly used for traffic following US 13. Traffic to Elizabeth City had to pass through this location until a highway-like bypass was opened about 2008. This meant that the entire route between Williamston and the Virginia border had 4 lanes.

On January 27, 2022, a $185 million contract was awarded to build a 9-mile bypass at Hampstead, just north of Wilmington. Construction began on March 11, 2022. The bypass will open at the end of 2026. Subsequently, the intermediate section between the Wilmington bypass (I-140) and the Hampstead bypass was completed.

Between 2022 and 2026, 10 miles of US 17 between Washington and Williamston will be widened to 2×2 lanes.

Traffic intensities

13,000 vehicles drive daily on the South Carolina border at Carolina Shores. The intensities are increasing towards Wilmington, to about 32,000 vehicles per day on the west side of the city. The busiest part coincides with US 74 in west Wilmington, with 60,000 vehicles per day on the bridge over the Brunswick River. After that, 30,000 to 22,000 vehicles will drive in the north of the city as far as I-140. Wilmington’s northeast bypass has 20,000 vehicles per day. After that, 35,000 vehicles drive through Hampstead and 25,000 vehicles continue to Jacksonville. The Jacksonville bypass handles 44,000 vehicles per day.

After Jacksonville, the road is quieter, with approximately 10,000 vehicles per day to New Bern. Up to 50,000 vehicles per day drive on the New Bern bypass. Thereafter, 5,000 to 10,000 vehicles will run between New Bern and Washington and 5,000 vehicles to Williamston. After that, usually around 10,000 vehicles per day drive to Elizabeth City and 12,000 vehicles on the border with Virginia.

US 17 in North Carolina