RTA Focus

For 2017, the RTA business coalition has focused on the timely installation of “Interstate 87” signage from its southern terminus at I-40 (exit 301) in southeast Raleigh along I-440 and the US 64/264 corridor east of Raleigh to the end of Interstate freeway standards near Knightdale Blvd/Wendell Blvd/Rolesville Rd interchange.

NCDOT installed initial Interstate 87 signage in September 2017, formally posting the second primary Interstate for Wake County.

I-87 will be superseding the I-495/future I-495 signage from Raleigh to Rocky Mount. The I-87 corridor will extend from its current terminus at I-40 in southeast Raleigh to coastal Virginia.

Ongoing Efforts

RTA seeks to advance the improvements needed to achieve the Interstate 87 designation east and west of I-95 over time. The RTA will seek the timely installation of “Future I-87” signage along the remaining portions of the existing corridor from Wendell to coastal Virginia, and Interstate 87 signs as improvements are completed.

Key Successes

  • I-87 signage is put in place in Raleigh, Knightdale, and Wendell in Sept. 2017
  • In May 2016, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved the “Interstate 87” designation for the US 64/17 corridor from Raleigh to coastal Virginia via Rocky Mount, Williamston, and Elizabeth City in northeastern North Carolina.
  • RTA successfully lobbied for state and federal support and transportation reauthorization legislation with future Interstate language passes US Senate and US House in 2015
  • Preliminary I-495 designation for the portion of the corridor between Raleigh and Rocky Mount announced at RTA 2013 State of Mobility event by Governor McCrory and NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata
  • The RTA business coalition has successfully spearheaded the effort to gain support at the local, state (NC and Va.), and federal level since 2005


In 2015 both houses of Congress passed federal transportation legislation authorizing a future Interstate designation for the full corridor between Raleigh and southeastern Virginia via northeastern North Carolina. The corridor subsequently received the I-87 designation in May 2016.

The number 87 is an appropriate tribute to the rich histories of the two states. In 1587, the Roanoke Colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh was established in what is now Dare County, North Carolina. Later in the same year, Virginia Dare was born in the colony, becoming the first child of English parents born in America.  In 1787, the James Madison’s Virginia Plan for the nation’s new government was presented at the Constitutional Convention by Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph.  This document proposed the bicameral Congress that exists today.  The following century, North Carolina State University, now the largest in the Carolinas, was founded in 1887 in Raleigh, the location of the southern terminus of I-87.

The I-87/I-495 initiative has already achieved significant success. North Carolina Governor McCrory announced in December 2013 at the annual meeting of the Regional Transportation Alliance business leadership group that the portion of US 64 between I-440 at Raleigh and I-95 at Rocky Mount had received the Interstate / future designation sought by RTA, creating Raleigh’s first direct free-flow Interstate highway corridor to the northern and mid-Atlantic states via I-495/future I-495 and jumpstarting progress for the full corridor.



We are pleased that the Interstate authorization for the corridor has provided the focus and clarity needed to advance improvements to this vital linkage between Raleigh, northeastern North Carolina, and coastal Virginia. While 100% of the US 64 portion of the corridor is built to freeway standards, the majority of the US 17 portion of the corridor is not a freeway. However, a number of projects have been submitted under the new data-driven STI process to upgrade several segments of US 17 to Interstate freeway standards. In addition, improvements between Wendell and Rocky Mount will activate the full I-87 designation for the US 64 freeway between Raleigh and I-95 north.

History of successes of RTA and partners

  • Interstate 87 designation approved for entire corridor in May 2016; I-87 and future Interstate 87 signage may be installed in 2017 in Wake County and points east.
  • Several projects submitted under STI to upgrade portions of the US 17 section to Interstate standards.
  • The entire North Carolina delegation offered their support for the bill to designate the entire corridor from Raleigh to Norfolk as a future interstate.
  • RTA successfully seeks I-495 Interstate designation along US 64 east freeway between Raleigh and Rocky Mount (media)
  • I-495 designation announced at RTA 2013 State of Mobility event by Governor McCrory and NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata  (media 1, 2)
  • I-495 designation added to Google maps east of Raleigh
  • First “Interstate 495” signs posted along corridor between I-440 at Raleigh and I-540 at Knightdale in April 2014, with more to be installed beginning in June 2014
  • Initial “Future I-495” signs were posted throughout the corridor between I-540 at Knightdale and I-95 at Rocky Mount in April 2014
  • Legislation that would codify future Interstate from Raleigh to Hampton Roads introduced in US House in 2015 (H.R. 2211), with bipartisan support and the entire NC delegation as co-sponsors as well as several members of the VA delegation
  • Legislation that would codify future Interstate from Raleigh to Hampton Roads introduced in US Senate in 2015 (S 1348) by Senator Tillis with Senator Burr co-sponsoring, along with both US Senators from Virginia
  • Federal transportation reauthorization legislation passes US Senate and US House in 2015 that includes the future Interstate language
  • NCDOT support for future Interstate from Raleigh to Hampton Roads (overview document, letter of support from NCDOT Secretary)
  • NCDOT launches feasibility studies of upgrade to full Interstate standards for entire corridor in North Carolina
  • Growing support for Interstate corridor from more than 40 partner entities and organizations in North Carolina and Virginia  (media)

“Ease and simplicity of access is extremely important to our region’s success and a future Interstate designation will help attract visitors from the population centers to the northeast.”

– Dennis Edwards, president and CEO, Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau

“Transportation is one of the major factors that site selectors evaluate when making decisions on the location of new businesses, including Interstate access. Proactive efforts to enhance our transportation network, including new and future Interstate corridors, will pay off both in the short-term and in the future.”
-Adrienne Cole, president and CEO, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce; former executive director, Wake County Economic Development

“This could be our most significant effort. Eliminating the Hampton Roads cul-de-sac is a long term game changer for our region. I am very supportive.”

– Alan Witt, CEO, PBMares, LLP; Hampton Roads Business Roundtable executive committee member

“The economic impact of this initiative will be of tremendous benefit to Hampton Roads. I am strongly in favor.”

– Bob Aston, Chairman and CEO of Townebank; Hampton Roads Business Roundtable executive committee member


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