North Carolina has changed dramatically over the last 20 years and will continue to do so well into the 21st century. Changes in travel patterns, increases in population and vehicle miles traveled, and burgeoning domestic and international trade are putting additional strains on North Carolina's transportation system. In an effort to enhance and preserve the backbone of the highway system, the Department of Transportation in collaboration with the Department of Commerce and Department of Environment and Natural Resources developed the Strategic Highway Corridors (SHC). SHC were adopted as the statewide tier of the North Carolina Multimodal Investment Network (NCMIN) in 2004.
The Strategic Highway Corridors provide a network of high-speed, safe, reliable highways throughout North Carolina. The designation as a SHC is based on mobility, connectivity to activity centers, connectivity to interstates, interstate relief routes, major hurricane evacuation routes, and corridors that are part of a national or statewide highway system. Activity centers include urban areas with a population of 20,000 or greater, state seaports, major airports, major intermodal terminals, major military installations, University of North Carolina system campuses, trauma centers, and major tourist attractions.
The Strategic Highway Corridors concept was adopted by the North Carolina Board of Transportation on September 2, 2004, as a part of North Carolina's Long-Range, Multimodal Statewide Transportation Plan. Following adoption, a formal policy statement on the initiative was endorsed by the Departments of Commerce, Environment and Natural Resources, Transportation, and the Governor's Office.