540 reasons to field a celebration

Today, Thursday, September 9, RTA was “in the field”, at the easternmost construction site of the Southern Wake 540 corridor.

Thanks to host WSP,  in concert with fellow RTA members Gannett Fleming, HDR, and Summit Design and Engineering, along with the NC Turnpike Authority, around 25 RTA members received an excellent — albeit wet — opportunity to view the fruits of the organization’s labor via a field visit to the future “turbine” interchange of 540, I-40, and US 70 freeway (future I-42).

RTA lobbied for more than a decade to ensure that our beltway would not go the way of other proposed roadways in growing metro areas that never made it to reality.

The construction of Southern Wake 540 represents the culmination of more than a decade of advocacy; connecting 540 with I-40 will complete the backbone of the Triangle’s regional freeway network and create an essential link between metropolitan and rural North Carolina.

The transformative potential of this project has only grown over the past several years due to: 

  • Demonstrated success of the existing 540 Turnpike, with 30% more revenue than projected since 2011 prior to the pandemic
  • Direct connection with future Interstate 42 (US 70 freeway), providing a critical linkage between eastern NC and Research Triangle Park
  • Groundbreaking, growing partnership in environmental protection
  • Opportunity to deploy future enhanced transit service along the 540 corridor and connecting roadways
  • Upgraded financial rating (BBB or equivalent) from all three major rating agencies for existing 540 Turnpike revenue bonds due to strong performance
  • Tolls projected to cover all operating and maintenance costs over life of this freeway segment, as well as around 2/3 of construction costs

The acceleration of 540 has enjoyed increasing anticipation from elected, business, and community leaders across multiple counties, as reflected by dozens of resolutions of support.

We are excited about the progress of 540, and look forward to the opening of Southern Wake 540, hopefully by 2023 — and to its accelerated connection and full completion of Eastern Wake 540 with I-87.

Let’s get moving,


Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA executive director


RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation in the Research Triangle area.
RTA represents more than 100 leading businesses and 25 member chambers of commerce in central and eastern North Carolina.


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