Interstate 495 was the designation for the US 64 freeway between I-95 near Rocky Mount and I-440 in Raleigh approved by the FHWA in December 2013. For a view of the approved route, Check out this Map courtesy of NCDOT.1 In 2016, however, an expanded corridor using US 64 and US 17, from Raleigh to Norfolk, VA, was approved and given the designation, Interstate 87. The FHWA removed I-495 from its Interstate Log in February 2017, officially ending the route's existence. AASHTO approved NCDOT's request to delete the I-495 and Future I-495 signed routes in May 2017.2 I-495 signs are still up as of June 2017 but will be taken down when I-87 signs are put up along these routes.3
The interstate highway was signed as I-495 for four miles along the US
64/US 264 "Knightdale Bypass" freeway from I-440 Exit 14 to I-540. For
the remainder of the route proceeding east along US 64 to its
interchange with I-95 west of Rocky Mount NCDOT placed Future 495
signs along the roadway.4 Getting an interstate designation
for this highway was the result of a continual effort over the past
decade largely by Raleigh and Wake County business leaders and officials
to boost economic development in the eastern Wake County area and
encourage tourist travel from the I-95 corridor to North Carolina's
capital city. In May 2005, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning
Organization (CAMPO), passed a resolution supporting the redesignation
of US 64 as a I-X95 three-digit route, for which they chose the number
495 as an example of a possible designation.5 Several other
political organizations passed similar resolutions, including the
Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, especially after the US 64/264
Knightdale Bypass was completed and opened to traffic later in 2005. In
2010, an umbrella group made up of several pro-transportation business
groups, including the Raleigh and Franklin County Chambers of Commerce,
called the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) also endorsed the
concept of an I-495 route for US 64 on a page of their website. By 2012,
however, RTA was promoting a larger plan of using US 64 as the western
end of a Raleigh to Norfolk, VA interstate which they labeled I-44.6
NCDOT did not seem to be too interested in either of these proposals, at
least publicly, until March 2013 when they sent an application to
AASHTO's Special Committee on US Route Numbering asking for the I-495
designation for US 64 and, at the same time, put a map of the proposed
route on their Route Changes website.7 Within the application
packet was a copy of a letter to the FHWA (more below) from NC Governor
Pat McCrory seeking the same thing. AASHTO approved the I-495
designation in May 2013 conditionally pending final approval of the
FHWA.8 FHWA approval was announced at RTA’s 12th Annual Meeting in Cary on December 12, 2013
by Governor McCrory and NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata.
NCDOT started the placement of I-495 signs during mid-April. Standard
interstate shields were placed along the Bypass freeway from I-440
to I-540, with North and South directional banners. Green signs with
Future 495 were installed on wooden posts along the rest of the US
64 freeway to I-95, first eastbound, and then back westward.9 NCDOT announced that new exit signage with I-495 shields
was being manufactured and would be placed on approaching roadways
(I-440, I-540) and the route itself by the summer.4
The US 64 freeway west of US 64 Business in Knightdale is currently not up to interstate standards. Given this part of the I-495 route needs to be upgraded before full interstate designation could be applied, NCDOT split the designation in their application for the route. For the 4.1 mile section along the Knightdale Bypass east of I-540, up to current standards, NCDOT wanted to apply the I-495 designation right away. The NCDOT proposal though asks only for a future I-495 designation for the remaining 40.1 miles to I-95. While the entire route could be signed as Future I-495, given there are no currently funded projects to upgrade US 64 through 2023, NCDOT apparently did not want to wait a decade or more before getting any benefits from another interstate highway in the Raleigh area. At the press conference announcing FHWA approval it was stated work to upgrade US 64 to interstate standards is to be done only as part of future reconstruction activities along the route.8 This is still the case with the changing of the designation from I-495 to I-87. Thus it appears it will be a long time before the entire route will be signed a full interstate.
As part of the letter to the FHWA, the NC Governor on behalf of NCDOT asked that they be allowed to keep the I-540 designation for the Eastern Wake Expressway portion of the Raleigh Outer Loop. NCDOT had indicated back in 2004 that the Outer Loop was supposed to change from I-540 to I-640 when it reached I-40 in Garner.9 This, however, was before NCDOT decided to build the western part of the Loop as a toll road, the Triangle Expressway, and designated it as NC 540. NCDOT maps now indicate it plans to complete the Outer Loop around Raleigh as a toll road, eventually connecting back to I-540 at the US 64/US 264 interchange, while retaining the 540 number. Since NCDOT wants that route now designated as I-495, they apparently feel that the FHWA would want the interstate number changed to I-640 since it is standard practice to have an even-numbered route when a 3-digit interstate connects with an another interstate route at both ends. Citing the long period of time the route has been I-540 and the cost of changing signs, NCDOT is asking that the number stay as is.10 While it is likely the FHWA will agree, given that other odd-numbered interstates, such as I-376 in Pennsylvania, that were originally spur routes but later extended to meet another interstate, kept their numbers, might there be a benefit to area drivers to know that 640 is a free route while 540 is not?
Historical photos taken along the path of I-495 between Raleigh and Rocky Mount during its existence (hover over for larger image).
New South I-495 sign following Hodge Road exit.
Expanded view of photo above showing US 64/264 West sign. NCDOT was in the process in early July 2014 of replacing all of the above with a single green sign, photo when available. Same with the signs in the other direction:
Similar set up going the opposite direction prior to NCDT putting up a single green sign with all 3 shields.
Newly installed North I-495 sign on Knightdale Bypass beyond Hodge Road. Photo courtesy of Dave Filpus. (4/26/14)
Newly installed Future 495 sign installed along US 64. Photo courtesy of NCDOT.
NCDOT also installed new Begin and End I-495 signs in the summer of 2014. Here's the End I-495 (and US 264) sign westbound approaching I-440, courtesy of Adam Prince:
And this is the new signage on Hodge Road approaching the new interstate, also courtesy of Adam Prince: