Local News

I-495 corridor could become economic lifeline for NC, Va.

Posted June 2, 2015
Updated June 3, 2015

The Interstate 495 corridor in eastern Wake County connects Raleigh’s Beltline with Interstate 95 in Rocky Mount.

But officials hope that’s not the end of the road. They want the corridor to connect the Triangle with the Hampton Roads area in Virginia.

The future interstate would run along U.S. Highway 64 to Williamston, then along the U.S. Highway 17 corridor toward Norfolk, Va. Proponents say it would be a huge economic boost for both states.

“This corridor would tie those two metro economic engines together,” said Joe Milazzo, executive director of the Regional Transportation Alliance, a business organization. “This would be an economic lifeline to them. It wouldn't make them prosperous, but would give them an opportunity for prosperity to occur.”

Rocky Mount is one of the communities that would benefit, he said. Recruiters know industry needs interstate connections before building a major facility.

“It is imperative for the future of eastern North Carolina that we have an interstate,” said Theresa Pinto with the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce.

It's not just industry that could benefit. The interstate could shave a half-hour off the trip between Norfolk and Raleigh, which would boost tourism.

Raleigh tourism officials have been pushing the interstate plan for a decade.

“It would certainly (be) a hugely significant impact for the leisure market, but also for group business, sports, meetings and conventions,” said Dennis Edwards, president of the Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Bipartisan bills are moving through both houses of Congress to start the project.

The 495 designation is good only to I-95 in Rocky Mount. A completed interstate to Norfolk would have a new federal designation. Regional transportation planners have requested I-44 or I-50 as potential route numbers.

Much of the route already is freeway, which would need some minor upgrades to meet interstate standards. Pinto says the estimated $1 billion cost is an investment that would pay huge returns.

“If it's not done, though, we don't see any growth,” she said.


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  • H Lee Dawson Jun 7, 2015
    user avatar

    Ms. Pinto, Rocky Mount already has an interstate. RM is almost exactly halfway between New York and Miami. We should be reaping tons of benefits but yet we aren't. We are already at the intersection of a I-95 and a major four lane divided highway. 64 is the main link from almost anywhere on the eastern part of North Carolina and Raleigh. Why aren't we seeing benefits from that?
    - The issue is not the roads. As the article plainly states, "Much of the route already is freeway, which would need some minor upgrades to meet interstate standards."
    - The real issue is we need to develop a better educated workforce and community. A survey showed the area is 75% illiterate! We need to get parents involved.
    We didn't lose Sears, Old Navy, and all the others due to the lack of another interstate. We didn't lose the chance for the local college to become part of the UNC system. We need to grow RM by attracting manufacturing business and others that bring people here.

  • Charlie Watkins Jun 4, 2015
    user avatar

    It needs to be rerouted so that it passes right through the middle of the Global Transpark. All the GTP needs to succeed is an interstate highway, a deep water port at the end of the runway and to be moved to Charlotte.

    Fix those minor things and off we go!

  • Larry Jackson Jun 3, 2015
    user avatar

    Don't think there would be any confusion. People traveling should know the difference between a 495 in D.C. and a 495 in the Tidewater area. I don't think they would get on 495 in Norfolk and think they will come out on the Beltway in D.C. If they don't know the difference, they have a lot more problems to worry about than highway numbers!

  • Jonathan Kincy Jun 3, 2015
    user avatar

    Wondering how much confusion it will cause the citizens of Virginia. They already have an I-495 loop that they share with Maryland, which goes around the Nation's Capital. Really wasn't trying to get political, but hasn't Washington caused enough confusion as it is?

  • Jeff Lawrence Jun 2, 2015
    user avatar

    Or Rocky Mount could build an entertainment palace and hire a 2 bit singer to spur economic...oh wait