Interstate 40 in California

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Interstate 40

Needles Freeway
I-40 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length154.64 mi[1] (248.87 km)
Existed1964 (1964)–present
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-15 in Barstow
Major intersections US 95 in Needles
East end I-40 at the Arizona state line near Topock, AZ
CountryUnited States
CountiesSan Bernardino
Highway system
SR 39 SR 41

Interstate 40 (I-40) is a major east–west Interstate Highway in the United States, stretching from Barstow, California, to Wilmington, North Carolina. The segment of I-40 in California is sometimes called the Needles Freeway. It goes east from its western terminus at I-15 in Barstow across the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County past the Clipper Mountains to Needles, before it crosses over the Colorado River into Arizona east of Needles. All 155 miles (249 km) of I-40 in California are in San Bernardino County.

Route description

A 1997 photo of the mileage sign at the start of I-40 in Barstow, showing the distance to the freeway's eastern terminus in Wilmington, North Carolina. This sign had been stolen several times.[2]

I-40 goes through the Mojave Desert on the entirety of its run through California. The highway starts its eastward journey at a junction with I-15 in Barstow. The freeway passes through Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow before leaving the city limits. I-40 provides access to the town of Daggett but passes south of the town. After passing south of the Barstow-Daggett Airport, I-40 goes through Newberry Springs and Ludlow before traveling along the south end of Mojave National Preserve. Several miles east of the preserve, I-40 intersects U.S. Route 95 (US 95), and the two highways run concurrently into the city of Needles. In Needles, US 95 continues south while I-40 continues east through Mojave National Preserve and across the Colorado River into Arizona.[3] The maximum speed limit for the entire California segment of I-40 is 70 mph (110 km/h).

I-40 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System and is part of the National Highway System,[4][5] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[6] I-40 is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System,[7] but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[8] I-40 from I-15 to the Arizona state line is known as the Needles Freeway, as named by Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 in 1968.[9]


In 1957, the California Department of Highways proposed that the route be numbered as I-30 because of the already existing US 40 in the state. However, this was rejected, and, eventually, US 40 was decommissioned in favor of I-80.

Today, the Needles Freeway replaced the former US 66 across the Mojave Desert. As a result, a number of communities along the former route, like Amboy, have become ghost towns.[10]

In the early 1960s, a proposal as part of Project Plowshare would have detonated 22 nuclear explosions to excavate a massive roadcut through the Bristol Mountains to accommodate a better alignment of I-40 and a new rail line. This proposal was definitively abandoned in 1968.[11][12] The section between Ludlow and Needles was constructed using conventional explosives and excavation and designed with culverts for migrating Bighorn sheep and water tanks. It opened to traffic on April 13, 1973.[13]

A sign at that start of I-40 in Barstow showing the distance to Wilmington, North Carolina, had been stolen several times.[2]

Exit list

The entire route is in San Bernardino County.


I-15 south to SR 58 west – San Bernardino
Western terminus; access to I-15 north via exit 1; exit 184A on I-15
Montara Road to CR 66
Eastbound signage

East Main Street / I-15 BL / Historic US 66 (CR 66) to I-15 north – Las Vegas
Westbound signage; west end of CR 66 overlap; former US 66
2.353.782Marine Corps Logistics Base (East Main Street)
4.717.585Nebo Street (CR 66 east)East end of CR 66 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Daggett7.1811.567A Street – Daggett
12.1919.6212Airport Road – Barstow-Daggett Airport
Newberry Springs18.4529.6918Newberry Springs (CR 66)Former US 66
23.3337.5523Fort Cady Road – Newberry Springs
28.5045.87Desert Oasis Rest Area
32.5052.3033Hector Road
Ludlow49.9880.4450Ludlow (CR 66)Former US 66
78.17125.8078Kelbaker Road
99.73160.50100Essex Road – Essex
106.94172.10John Wilkie Rest Area - Fenner
Fenner107.17172.47107Goffs Road (CR 66) - EssexFormer US 66
115.19185.38115Mountain Springs Road
119.97193.07120Water Road
US 95 north – Searchlight, Las Vegas
West end of US 95 overlap; former US 66 west
Needles139.11223.88139River Road CutoffEastbound exit and westbound entrance; former US 66 east
141.01226.93141W. Broadway (I-40 BL east) / River Road (Historic US 66)Former US 66
142.37229.12142J Street – Downtown
US 95 south / Historic US 66 (E. Broadway / I-40 BL west) – Blythe
East end of US 95 overlap; former US 66
148.19238.49148Five Mile RoadFormer US 66
149.10239.95Agricultural Inspection Station (westbound)
153.31246.73153Park Moabi Road
Colorado River154.64248.87CaliforniaArizona line

I-40 east – Kingman
Continuation into Arizona
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Related routes

California does not have any auxiliary Interstate Highways associated with I-40.

One business loop of I-40 exists in the state, running through Needles. It is also designated as Historic Route 66 since it follows the former routing of US 66.


  1. ^ a b c "Interstate 40 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. December 26, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "I-40 Barstow, Calif., sign gone for good". Star-News. November 13, 2009. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
  3. ^ San Bernardino County Street Atlas (Map). Thomas Brothers. 2008.
  4. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (South) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  8. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
  9. ^ California Department of Transportation; California State Transportation Agency (January 2021). 2020 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California (PDF). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. p. 33. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 10, 2022.
  10. ^ Anton, Mike (January 17, 2007). "Destiny in the desert". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  11. ^ "Project Carryall Marker". January 9, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  12. ^ Fry, J. G.; Stane, R. A.; Crutchfield Jr, W. H. (July 26, 1994). "Preliminary Design Studies In A Nuclear Excavation: Project Carryall". TRB Publications Index (50). Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "Barstow-Needles highway realigned for 67 miles". Redlands Daily Facts. April 14, 1973. p. 9. Retrieved August 30, 2023 – via

External links

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