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No sign of road ahead

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The I-40 sign marking the 2,500 mile drive to the end of the road in California was noticeably absent today. Last night thieves stole the Wilmington landmark that connects our country’s coasts, and it’s not the first time.

“I have my picture taken with it and I’ve also taken my picture at the other end of I –40,” said Mike Gunther.

It is 2,554 miles from end to end. I-40 West starts in Wilmington and ends on the other side of the country in Barstow, California.

Heading out of town, there’s usually a sign letting drivers know how far they have to go.

“It was installed at the completion of i-40 to mark the end points here and in California around the summer of 1991,” said Ben Hughes of the NC Department of Transportation.

Since then the sign has been stolen four times, the latest coming Thursday night.

“I think that it’s bad because the children that ride on that road can see that we connect from coast to coast, and now it’s not there,” said Pat Butler.

Each time it’s stolen, it costs the department of transportation about $600 to replace the sign.
Drivers were worried this time it wouldn’t be replaced.

“We’ve had a number of e-mails, just today, expressing interest for the sign to be replaced and have it reinstalled. There was a lot of people concerned that wouldn’t be done,” Hughes said.

Luckily engineers found an extra sign in storage, so DOT decided to replace the landmark after all. “It’s a unique sign that you don’t see everyday and it’s a good thing to have out there,” Hughes said.

Hughes asked would-be thieves to leave the new sign alone. He says the DOT might not be able to replace it next time. If you want a souvenir, a better idea is to pull over and take a picture with the sign. No word yet on when the sign will be replaced.

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Story summary

videoThe I-40 sign marking the 2,500 mile drive to the end of the road in California was noticeably absent today. Last night thieves stole the Wilmington landmark that connects our country’s coasts, and it’s not the first time.

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