Our multimodal freeway network will expand by next summer

We are one year away from our newest Interstate.

The “Durham East End Connector” project – which we have referred to as the Triangle Connector to I-85 for several years, and look forward to referring to simply as new Interstate 885 – is working towards completion by summer 2020.

The new freeway connector was the highest priority project of the RTA business coalition for several years until its groundbreaking in spring 2015, and its opening cannot come soon enough.

When I-885 opens around next July, there will be no stoplights for the entire 885/540/US 1 corridor in the heart of the Triangle heading from Virginia through Durham, RTP, Cary, Apex, and Sanford.

The Connector will relieve traffic from downtown Durham. Travelers headed from RTP to North Durham – or from Cary to Richmond for that matter – will be able to stay on the freeway system, including the new I-885 Connector, and not have to take local roads like Duke Street.

Remarkably, the Connector won’t just serve as a downtown bypass and reliever around Durham – it will also improve accessibility to Downtown Durham for some travelers. In particular, those heading west on US 70 from the Brier Creek area or from North Raleigh, who will now be able to follow 70 west, to the new I-885 south Connector bridge, to 147 north to the Downtown exits along the Durham Freeway. This will keep these travelers on the freeway system, while providing more direct access to the downtown core — all while avoiding travel on I-40.

The new I-885 Connector will represent an important and growing part of our multimodal freeway system.

Already, several GoTriangle routes use our freeway network including parts of I-40 – which also has bus on shoulder service (BOSS) – and now I-540 (thanks to the new GoTriangle North Raleigh Express NRX route that started this week). In addition, some GoTriangle routes use portions of our turnpike freeways (Toll 147 and Toll 540) during select peak periods. I expect that GoDurham and/or GoTriangle may be able to add future bus routes that utilize the new I-885 Connector, for at least part of the day.

With new and enhanced freeway connections like I-885 and ever-increasing bus service (as a result of ongoing, dedicated local transit funding), we’ve only begun to see the potential mobility benefits of our growing resilient multimodal freeway network.

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation

post reference: th3.2019.32

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