Interstate 540 represents the northern half of the Raleigh beltway, a planned circumferential highway for the capital city of North Carolina. The freeway at present constitutes a state road spur from Interstate 40 to North Carolina 55 at Research Triangle Park and a loop between Interstate 40 near RDU International Airport to U.S. 64 & 264 outside Knightdale. The highway varies between four and six lanes through Raleigh-Durham Airport, Leesville, and east Raleigh.
Interstate 540 was completed in stages between Interstate 40 near RDU Airport and U.S. 64 & 264 at Knightdale. The first segment opened between Exits 1 and 4 on January 21, 1997; with completion of the route to the Knightdale Bypass (Exit 26) on January 16, 2007. Work on the North Carolina 540 spur between Interstate 40 and North Carolina 55 was completed on July 14, 2007.
Extension of the route south and east is underway as a tolled road. Tolling of the beltway was chosen because of funding issues. Funding issues also have pushed back completion of the Eastern Wake Expressway between Knightdale and Interstate 40 at Garner to 2015 or 2022 and the Southern Wake Expressway between Garner and Apex to 2015 or 2032 depending on tolling options.
Work to extend North Carolina 540 Toll south from N.C. 55, west of the December 2011-opened Triangle Expressway (N.C. 147 Toll), to U.S. 64 is underway with an opening expected in 2012. Further extension of the road southeast to N.C. 55 by Holly Springs is slated for December 2012. See the NCDOT Western Wake Freeway for more information.
For more historical information on Interstate 540, please see Interstate 540 @ Interstate-Guide.
Interstate 540 North Carolina Highway Guides
Page Updated 12-19-2011.