540 / Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension
The Triangle Expressway ("Tri-Ex") -- which opened in stages in 2011 and 2012 in southern Durham and western Wake counties-- is the largest highway project in North Carolina history and the first modern toll road in North Carolina.
The first segment of the roadway -- Toll 147 in Research Triangle Park -- opened in December 2011. The next segments, representing the continuation of the 540 Outer Loop, opened in August and December 2012. When coupled with the proposed (toll free) Triangle Connector to I-85,
which will be under construction in spring 2014, the region will soon additional new north-south, stoplight-free mobility in the heart of the Triangle.
A future extension of the turnpike -- to be called the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension
-- will extend Toll 540 from the NC 55 Bypass at Holly Springs to the south and east to I-40 at the existing US 70 Clayton Bypass. The final segment of the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension will extend 540 from I-40 at US 70 Clayton Bypass north and east to US 64/264 freeway at I-540.
TriEx motorists have the option of obtaining electronic transponders which will be associated to pre-paid accounts and will provide discounted toll rates. Those without transponders can still use the toll road as cameras will take photos of license plates (similar to red light camera enforcement technology). There are no toll booths to slow down drivers on toll roads in North Carolina as all tolls are collected electronically.
For a 2012 RTA map showing the opening and toll activation dates of various segments of the Triangle Expressway turnpike, click here.
For the NC Turnpike Authority map of 540/Triangle Expressway, click here.
PROPOSED SOUTHEAST EXTENSION
The next segment of the turnpike -- to be called the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension -- will extend Toll 540 from the NC 55 Bypass at Holly Springs to the south and east to I-40 at the existing US 70 Clayton Bypass, and then further east to join with 540 again at the US 64/264 Knightdale Bypass. When that section of the turnpike is complete, it will create a complete bypass opportunity of Raleigh and the RDU area for traffic from Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the rest of the western I-40 corridor, east to Wilmington, the North Carolina ports, and nearby points.
However, due to a variety of environmental and subsequent legislative factors, the study of the southern and eastern portions of the proposed freeway was delayed for more than two years since March 2012. In April 2012, the Federal Highway Administration gave the Turnpike Authority a 60-day deadline to demonstrate actions that would meet engineering and environmental analysis requirements or it would remove its “Notice of Intent” to complete the environmental study of the corridor.
With the completion of our beltway in jeopardy, RTA immediately engaged an environmental policy firm out of Washington, DC to provide guidance on a way forward, including multiple potential alternative corridors for the proposed turnpike freeway that would meet federal study requirements (see NCTA draft map of suggested corridors here). We have shared that guidance with the Turnpike Authority, and the Turnpike Authority has corresponded directly with the Federal Highway Administration, asking that the project be allowed to continue.
RTA continues to engage with the project so that this critical freeway may be realized. See www.letsgetmoving.org/forward540 for current information about this project.
PRIOR REFERENCES FOR THE SOUTHEAST EXTENSION
The following was the expected schedule of work to advance 540 / Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension to construction as of March 2011; that timetable has since been delayed subsequent to the passage of legislation in March 2011.
During 2011 - Complete Purpose and Need, Alternatives Screening, Field Surveys
May 2012 - Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
Feb 2013 - Final EIS
Dec 2013 - Record of Decision
2014 - Final corridor determined, financial feasibility details (Phase I estimated time to complete: 5 years after funding secured)
For more information about the 540 Triangle Expressway from the NC Turnpike Authority, visit: