Southern Wake 540 – a $1 billion regional investment in connectivity and affordability

Construction of Southern Wake 540 is well underway for our community and region.

I have taken several different field visits to the 540 construction site during the past few months, and each time I go, I am impressed by the progress.

While the technical, construction, and environmental protection measures are fantastic to see, what is even more impressive is what this new multimodal freeway will do for the future of this region — from a mobility, connectivity, housing accessibility, access to jobs, and overall quality of life standpoint.

In last week’s blog, I focused on RTA’s support for regional commuter rail, and its potential to provide enhanced mobility and housing affordability for our region.

For this week’s blog, I want to emphasize another important RTA priority:  the ongoing acceleration and future completion of 540, which will complement the commuter rail and other corridors in our region, and provide time-reasonable-and-reliable connectivity as well as comparatively more affordable and attainable housing for our metropolitan Triangle.

540 is the linkage from Apex, Cary, Research Triangle Park, and other areas to Garner, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Johnston County — and Wayne County. Upon its opening, likely sometime in 2023, the new 540 freeway will provide a complete bypass of all I-40 interchanges in Wake County and RTP — and its opening will also help unify the metropolitan Triangle and nearby areas of eastern North Carolina.

540 will provide a multimodal investment in growth, connectivity, and opportunity, by better connecting a number of communities to each other, which will provide new opportunities for people, by saving them time, and money on housing.

Remember, the core benefit of any freeway is simple:  with the exception of peak congested conditions, you get to travel at relatively high speed, from your entry to your exit, without interruption by any traffic signals or cross-traffic. Even better, freeways are invariably among the safest roads in the state, due to the degree of access control.

The 540 corridor can also be a part of what we believe can be a growing regional FAST network of multimodal freeways and streets that prioritize transit service and users.

Thank you to the NC Turnpike Authority, NCDOT, the Capital Area MPO, our members, and this region for the decade-long dedication that is making this vital connection a reality over the next couple of years — and hopefully the completion of the entire 540 loop later this decade.

Thinking once more from a system standpoint:  Southern Wake 540, Eastern Wake 540, and other vital corridors can complement projects like our future regional commuter rail spine, which is being studied as we speak for service into Johnston County. Each of these will provide an opportunity for accessing more affordable housing, improving regional connectivity, and enhanced economic development.

Let’s get moving,

Joe Milazzo II, PE
Executive Director, Regional Transportation Alliance

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.


Gold members

Thank you to our Omnia Gold, Sustaining Gold, and Gold members

Omnia Gold