I-540 To Speed Commute From Eastern Wake

Posted December 5, 2006 8:58 a.m. EST

The next leg of Interstate 540 is expected to open by the end of the month, closing the gap between eastern Wake County and Raleigh and Research Triangle Park.

"I-540 is the biggest boom for eastern Wake County that we've ever had," said Mike Fragos, the planning director for Knightdale.

The new section will run from Capital Boulevard near the Triangle Town Center mall to the U.S. Highway 64 Bypass near Knightdale. The trip from Capital Boulevard to U.S. 64 has been a slow ride through dozens of traffic lights and clogged thoroughfares, but the new interstate will transform that to a trip that will take only minutes.

"We know that this roadway is going to connect us with north Raleigh. It's going to connect us to RTP. It actually brings us closer to the rest of the Triangle than we ever have been before," Fragos said.

About 8,000 people live in Knightdale, but officials expect the town's population to balloon to 29,000 by 2025.

The highway not only will make it easier for residents to commute to work in Raleigh and Research Triangle Park, it also will bring business to eastern Wake County because the trip will be shorter for customers and employees, officials said.

"People now can have a straight shot from Capital Boulevard and many other places like that to us in five minutes or so, whereas before, they had to take a roundabout route that took at least 30 minutes," said Timothy Johnson, who owns an auto body shop near the I-540 interchange at U.S. 64.