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DOT Unwraps Commuter Plans for I-540

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RALEIGH — TheN.C. Department of Transportationsays it has a gift for frustrated commuters. It plans to open another section of the Outer Loop to traffic this month.

Interstate 540 is about to grow, providing more relief to people who live in North Raleigh.

The newest section of I-540, from Leesville Road to Creedmoor Road, snakes through the woods of North Raleigh. When will commuters get to use it?

"That project is nearing completion," says DOT engineer Tracy Parrott. "We feel like we will have that open to traffic before the Christmas holidays. All of the work, or the majority of the work, will be finished before the Christmas holidays such that we can put traffic on it."

The DOT promises no grinch will steal this holiday gift for drivers frustrated with clogged secondary roads.

I-540 has its positive side, but there is also a negative that commuters say is daily headache. After miles of new, multi-lane highway, the Outer Loop squeezes down to one lane at Interstate 40. Some liken the traffic to pouring water into a funnel.

Plans to widen I-40 at I-540 are still on the drawing board. The DOT says fixing the bottleneck will take a minimum of two years.

When will the Outer Loop open for traffic from Creedmoor Road to Six Forks Road, and then up to Falls of Neuse Road?

"If we get a mild winter, we feel pretty confident that we can get through to the Six Forks Road interchange shortly after first of the year. Tying into Falls of Neuse is likely going to be in early spring," says Parrott.

There will still be backups, like the current signal slow down at Leesville and 540.

The DOT says the Outer Loop will stretch from I-40 all the way to Capital Boulevard by early 2002.


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