The state is getting closer to closing the Interstate 540 loop around Raleigh.
Construction started four years ago on a six-lane Triangle Expressway from Holly Springs 18 miles to Interstate 40 in Garner.
The state recently signed a contract to start construction on phase two, which will complete I-540, from I-40 at Garner to Knightdale, by 2028.
“Overnight, it’s almost like, wow, we’ve taken a leap toward getting this thing done,” said NC Turnpike Authority Deputy Chief Engineer Dennis Jernigan.
Jernigan took WRAL News on a driving tour through the construction.
“You can actually almost drive in a lot of places between the intersecting roadways, so we are close enough we can feel it,” Jernigan said. “We’re excited.”
Some sections are still bare dirt. Others are as much as 50% paved.
All of the roads and bridges that cross the future Triangle Expressway are open, except a new diverging diamond on Holly Springs Road.
“We’ve got a lot of pavement to go down,” Jernigan said. “We really need to get that down before the winter sets in.”
A large crane lifted beams into place for one of the 13 bridges that will make up a massive new interchange at I-40 and U.S. Highway 70 near Garner. By the year 2040, about 200,000 vehicles are expected to drive through the area each day.
This eastern end of phase one is where the second phase of construction will begin. That project will close the final 10-mile gap in the loop around Raleigh, from Garner to Knightdale.
“This is going to have a beneficial impact not only for Raleigh, but for surrounding communities, for motorists traveling through the state,” Jernigan said.
Four years of construction is now counting down to the final months, moving 18 miles closer to completing I-540.
“It’s been noisy at times. It’s been dusty at time,” Jernigan said. “We’ve seen a lot of patience.
“We’ve met a lot of our neighbors, and so, the first thing we want to do is thank them for being patient. We’re almost there.”