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City Leaders Eager to Get Construction of Eastern Wake Expressway Under Way

Posted October 22, 2007

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— The Raleigh City Council and Mayor Charles Meeker are calling on the state Department of Transportation to speed up construction of more of Interstate 540 in eastern Wake County.

The Eastern Wake Expressway would stretch from Garner to Knightdale, south of the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass.

Although the officials are eager for a sign of progress, the project has no start date, and planners have big bottlenecks to overcome before construction can begin.

"There's no funding or no schedule to build it,” Meeker said.

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said he supports making the expressway a toll road if that gets it built faster. Meeker said he thinks it is too early to know whether putting tolls on the road is the solution.

"We need to do what we can on a fair timeline to get things expedited. If toll roads are a part of the discussion, we need to give it some consideration,” Williams said.

Officials estimated that without tolls, it could take 20 years longer to build the road. The most recently opened portion of the highway was designated as N.C. Highway 540, not I-540, so that tolls are a legal possibility at some point in the future. Using federal money for toll roads is problematic.

Raleigh has passed a resolution asking for the required environmental impact study to be done as quickly as possible.

"That's the way things get done, because you've got to stay behind some agencies to push them. Stay behind them, and let them know your message is loud and clear and to get things expedited,” Williams said.

The city's resolution also called for the state to protect land from public and private development. DOT officials said they will take the resolution into consideration.


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  • hedgy_one Oct 23, 2007

    I live in Raleigh & I get sooo tired of Mayor Meeker trying to tell all of the other Wake County towns what to do & when to do it! We need to extend I540 from where ever it ends now down through Fuquay & then back up to Garner & to Hwy 64 at Knightdale.... It can't be a LOOP until it goes all the way around!!!! I work at RTP, and, even though the traffic is bad out there, we need to focus on some of the other parts of the county too. I think this road will really help the traffic on I40 when it's completed all the way around.

  • hp277 Oct 23, 2007

    Isn't widening I-40 from Wade Ave to US 1 a higher priority - and a lot cheaper - than 540?

  • hp277 Oct 23, 2007

    The 5 cents per gallon that was added in 1989 was for loop roads in 7 cities - Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Wilmington, Durham, Winston-Salem, and Asheville. 4 of those loops are at least partially complete, but 3 cities - Durham, Winston-Salem, and Asheville - have nothing to show for 18 years of paying that extra nickel a gallon. It's their turn to receive loop money.

    If any additional part I-540 is to be completed any time in the next 20 years, it will have to be with a toll or with an additional increase in the gas tax or some other tax or fee.

  • T-Man Oct 23, 2007

    RaleighRob, where did you read this? I would be very interested in reading it myself. Thanks!


  • RaleighRob Oct 23, 2007

    Um, folks, the Western part (NC 55 to US 1...or something like that) is already being planned, designed, and permitted. I believe construction will start within the next 10-12 months.
    (From what I have read/heard.)

  • whatelseisnew Oct 23, 2007


    I like your thinking. They also should pay a 300 dollar per day parking fee to add to the trust fund. Plus no per diem for being in Raleigh.

  • T-Man Oct 23, 2007

    Wasn't getting 540 to hwy 64 in Eastern Wake already the priority? I thought the next priority was to get 540 going through western Wake. Ohh, yeah that's right, the 3 miles from I-40 to hwy 55 is the western part. Why not connect the western part of 540 to hwy 64, then go back to the eastern side?


  • whatelseisnew Oct 23, 2007

    None of 540 should have tolls. The state added 6 cents tax per gallon extra specifically to pay for projects like 540 back in 1989. We together have provided plenty of money to the state coffers to pay for this. Write your State Senators and house of reps and tell them if they allow tolls they need to look for a new job. All those people should be ashamed. The Governor most of all. Glad that clown will be gone soon.

  • tmedlin Oct 23, 2007

    I like the idea of adding tolls to all the downtown streets where our lawmakers go to work each day...

  • Nobody but Carolina Oct 23, 2007

    Actually, those of us in the northeast part of Wake County (Wendell, Zebulon, Knightdale area) already have our I540 access to RTP going around North Raleigh. For us to take what is being discussed building now to get to RTP is going out of the way. What this would actually do is tie this area as well as North Raleigh in to I40 on the East side of Raleigh to gain easier access to the southern beaches.

    Having said that, I'd agree that priority does need to be at the other end in RTP and start bringing 540 around the south side of Raleigh to the towns in Southern Wake.