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New Leg of Outer Loop Should Be Open in December

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RALEIGH — The outer loop, Interstate 540, has been years in the making, and it is decades away from completion. However, it is beginning to take shape, and relief for some commuters could be just a few months away.

That is good news for commuters headed from northRaleightoRTP. The outer loop from Leesville Road to Highway 70 should be open by December.

The latest leg of the outer loop could have been ahead of schedule, but mother nature got involved.

"With the volumes of rain we got with each of the hurricanes plus the thunderstorms and the rain events of this week, the projects haven't had an opportunity to dry between these rain events. September's been pretty much a washout," said Tracy Parrott,Department of Transportationconstruction engineer.

Many heavily traveled roads that cross the outer loop will get upgrades. Six Forks Road gets a $5 million, single-point bridge intersection.

"The traffic that comes to the top of the ramps and needs to turn and go back across the ramps will actually come to a stop facing the bridge. The bridge constitutes a single point of interchange. It's more efficient," said Parrott.

As you near Capitol Boulevard, the outer loop corridor is a ribbon of trees cutting through developments.

At Capitol Boulevard, all that construction work you've been seeing will hopefully be a big interchange by 2002.

The outer loop from Interstate 40 to Highway 70 was finished in 1998. Highway 70 to Leesville Road should be complete by December.

Leesville Road to Falls of Neuse is scheduled to open at the end of 2000. Falls of Neuse to Capitol Boulevard is set to open by March 2002.

There is no firm date for Capitol Boulevard to Highway 64 or Interstate 40 south to Holly Springs.

There are also no promises for the entire southern loop. The DOT hopes the entire outer loop project is finished by 2025.

The DOT is unclear on many of the completion dates because bids for several sections of Interstate 540 have not yet been awarded.