Turnpike Authority looks to completing 540 loop

Posted October 22, 2009
Updated October 23, 2009

— Construction crews could break ground on two remaining segments of the Interstate 540/N.C. Highway 540 loop in Wake County by as early as 2014.

Steve Dewitt, the chief engineer for the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, said Thursday that preliminary plans have the southern segment stretching 18 miles from N.C. Highway 55 near Holly Springs to the Interstate 40 Clayton Bypass.

Turnpike Authority eyes rest of 540 loop Turnpike Authority eyes rest of 540 loop

The eastern portion would run 12 miles from the I-40 Clayton Bypass to the existing I-540 near Knightdale.

Completing the loop would mean the roadway would connect communities in the southern half of the county, including Apex, Holly Springs, Garner and Clayton.

Environmental studies are still needed, Dewitt said, and other details still need to be worked out. Funding would come from tolls.

"In the five-year time frame, it's reasonable to expect this project can move forward, in terms of construction," he said.

Right now, I-540/N.C. 540 runs from N.C. 55 in Cary to U.S. Highway 264 in eastern Wake County.

Construction started this year to complete a 16-mile stretch of N.C. 540 that will run from Morrisville to N.C. 55 in Holly Springs.

That's expected to be complete by 2012 and will be part of the state's first toll road.


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  • byogman Oct 26, 2009

    I live off US 64 and benefit from the northern part of 540. I agree it's total bs that they're going to toll some parts and not others... is it really necessary for the federal funds to artificially keep part of it toll free? If so, very weird and wrong. I have no love for tolls but bringing forward the completion of needed roads decades sooner is a good reason to do it... unless it just becomes another tax going into the general slush fund, which it well could.

    This won't however solve the long term needs of the region... need both more lanes and HOV lanes that express buses can use to be faster in transit than non-carpooled vehicles during rush hour. I also think it's important to turn 70 into a super-street with much more limited turnoffs, fewer lights with more favorable timing, and an option to bypass the crabtree nightmare so 40 commuters doesn't have to take quite so much pain.

    Don't know how to fix the pain felt by Apex/Holly Springs folks, but I gather it is substantial.

  • getrealpeople Oct 23, 2009

    They will toll southern section around to 40 but not get to the section between 40 and 64bypass since easy access to free north section until they approve improvements (widening) of that north section which then they will toll it all! That way no alterantive for out of towners but to go on toll road. Locals will know way around to north (free) section. Northen section will be tolled for widening by then. No way around it. Gas tax should go up to pay for it. One day light rail?

  • peppercorns Oct 23, 2009

    t job legislature and company...make 540 free for those who are loaded with money like the folks in wakefield and charge the working poor like your own state employees who cant afford to live in wake county, let alone wakefield....
    You all should have started with the 40 to holly springs section not finished with it.

  • manofjustice Oct 23, 2009

    Traffic is only going to get worse in Wake County. 540 is only 3 lanes and that is so stupid. We need more lanes and a rapid rail system. Now is the time to do these things.

  • deadwood90210 Oct 23, 2009

    How's that stimulus working out for NC ???? :-) What a bunch of suckers. I have something shovel ready for you, BarBack

    Change? Yup.

    Hope? Not so much.

  • ncsqrl Oct 23, 2009

    "I and many others I know will boycott the NC-540 section of tolls. I hope the Turnpike Authority goes bankrupt" (ncdouglas)
    AMEN !! I have opposed the inequity of the toll from the beginning. sadly tho seems the voices that did oppose couldn't stop the folks who wanted it (and who probably don't even live near enough to it to have to use it/pay it - bet they get to enjoy the Free portion!). makes me sick everytime I read a story about this - how unfair it is and seemingly, per the ones "in charge" -irreversible a decision. Wish someone with some power cared enough to try.

  • NeverSurrender Oct 23, 2009

    "A little name change is everything. You cannot toll an interstate. Another fine achievement by the NC Legislature."


    Sure you can! There are plenty of tolled interstates in the NYC area alone...

    What you can't do is toll an interstate that was originally not tolled when it was built which is why the vast majority of I-95 will never have tolls.

  • Nobody but Carolina Oct 23, 2009

    They won't rename the entire loop NC 540 as that would mean giving federal highway money back that was used to build the northern part of 540. If you don't want the southern part to have tolls, then quit pushing to have it built now and wait for it to fit in to the DOT budget. It wasn't scheduled to be completed until about 2030 or 2035, but a lot of people want it done 15 to 20 years sooner than proposed.

  • mswindell1978 Oct 22, 2009

    Definitely agree with BULLDOZER. Didn't my tax dollars pay for the northern section of I-540? Rename the entire loop NC-540, toll the whole thing and make everybody pay equally to use the road. Same old story. The rich (Wakefield, etc.) make sure the less well off (S. Wake Co.) are taxed more than they are. Way to go Legislature. But since we're going on the toll booth spree, why not rename the last miles of I-95, I-85, I-77 and I-40 that border other states and put toll booths on the borders. If you have an NC plate, you don't have to pay the toll. I-95 is in shambles b/c of all the trucking traffic running from NY to FL.

  • ncdouglas Oct 22, 2009

    Interstate 540 = no tolls
    NC 540 = Tolls

    A little name change is everything. You cannot toll an interstate. Another fine achievement by the NC Legislature.

    I and many others I know will boycott the NC-540 section of tolls. I hope the Turnpike Authority goes bankrupt..