87 is the new designation for a planned highway corridor between I-40
in Raleigh and I-64 in Norfolk, VA approved by AASHTO and the FHWA in
May 2016. Here's the map of the corridor from NCDOT's AASHTO
In February 2017 the FHWA officially approved I-87 signing along the western part of the route from I-40, along I-440 to the US 64/264 Knightdale Bypass, currently signed as I-495, then east to the Business 64 exit. Ground-mounted I-87 signs were put up in the Fall of 2017. It is unknown when overhead signage will be put up along these routes, however the route first appeared on Google Maps on June 16, 2017.2
For now, the interstate highway will be signed as I-87 for only 12 miles from I-40/I-440 interchange south of Raleigh, for 2.9 miles over I-440, then for 10 miles to the end of the US 64/US 264 Knightdale Bypass at the US 64 Business exit. For the remainder of the route proceeding east along US 64 to its interchange with US 17 west of Williamston and then US 17 from there north to the Virginia border, NCDOT has placed Future I-87 signs along the roadway at the beginning of freeway segments and at county lines.3 Here's a closeup map of the route in the Raleigh area used as part of NCDOT's application to AASHTO to delete the I-495 designation:
Getting an interstate designation for the Raleigh-Norfolk corridor has been 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.4 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-44.5
NCDOT did not seem to be too interested these interstate 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.6 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.7 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 2014.
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
Photo courtesy of NCDOT.
Despite the I-495 designation, NC officials and business groups like the RTA still pursued an interstate designation for the entire US 64/US 17 Raleigh to Norfolk corridor. On December 15 2015, language specifically calling for an interstate route for the corridor, and along US 70 from Raleigh to Morehead City (Future I-42), was included in the new transportation bill passed by Congress, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. RTA and NCDOT immediately started the process of getting an interstate number for the corridor. RTA's suggested number, I-89, was applied for during the May 25, 2016 meeting of AASHTO's Special Committee on US Route Numbering.9 AASHTO agreed to approve the route, but only if it was numbered as I-87. In November 2016, the FHWA and AASHTO approved NCDOT's request that US 264 from US 64 in Zebulon to Greenville be designated an I-87 spur route, I-587.10 In February 2017 the FHWA Interstate Route Log was updated to include I-87. In May 2017, the AASHTO Special Committee on US Route Numbering approved NCDOT's request to delete the I-495 routes in favor of I-87.11
The US 64 freeway west of US 64 Business in Knightdale to Williamston, nor US 17 from there to the Virginia border are currently up to interstate standards. These parts of the I-87 route needs to be upgraded before full interstate designation can be applied. The route therefore, for the immediate future, will only be signed as I-87 section from I-40 along 2.9 miles of I-440 and along the Knightdale Bypass for 11 miles to the US 64 Business exit (Rolesville Road exit southbound). NCDOT did release a feasibility study (FS-1504A) about upgrading US 64 from the current end of I-87 to its intersection with US 17 in Williamston on August 16, 2017 breaking up the route into 8 segments.12 NCDOT estimated the upgrade of the 86.4 miles of US 64 would cost between $267 and $369 million depending on what modifications were made.They also published a feasibility study about the US 17 portion in January 2018, 10 segments were evaluated with costs ranging from $850 to $945 million depending on alternatives chosen.13 Given that US 64 is already a freeway from Raleigh to Williamston, upgrades to those segments should be easier to make than those for US 17, which could take decades to build. Below, based on the feasibility studies segments, are the proposed construction plan, or plans, proposed to bring the route up to interstate standards, the costs, whether the projects are funded, and construction dates, if any. An unfunded project is unlikely to start before 2030. In the fall of 2020, due to NCDOT budget problems related both to extra costs due to hurricane related repairs, a court decision regarding the need to make millions of dollars in payments to property owners located at future highway sites, and budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic many future projects, including many involving Future I-87, were delayed, see list below:
I-440, I-40 to US 64/264 Knightdale Bypass
Route Type: Interstate Length: 2.9 Miles Status: Complete
This starting segment for I-87 was first signed in September 2017 and was 'completed' when overhead signage with I-87 shields were put up in May and June 2019 (see photos below). The exit numbers remained based on I-440 mileage presumably because having Exits 1 and 2 on both sides of the route would be confusing to motorists.
US 64/264 Knightdale Bypass, I-440 to Rolesville Road
Route Type: Interstate Length: 11 Miles Status: Complete
This segment for I-87 was also first signed in September 2017 and was 'completed' when overhead signage with I-87 shields were put up in May and June 2019 (see photos below). Prior to the I-87 designation, the segment between I-440 and I-540 was signed as I-495 and that between I-540 and US 64 Business in Wendell was designated Future I-495. These signs remained up until the permanent overhead I-87 signs went up in June 2019.
US 64/264 Freeway, Rolesville Road until US 64/US 264 Split in Zebulon
Route Type: 4-Lane Freeway Length: 7.5 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No*
The US 64/264 freeway east of the Knightdale Bypass has a 70 MPH speed limit but has shoulders not up to interstate standards. NCDOT originally planned to widen US 64/264 from the current end of I-87 at Business 64 to the split on US 64 and US 264 (Future I-587) (Project I-6005) starting in 2025, however that date has now been pushed back to 2029 in the final 2020-2029 STIP released in September 2019.14, 15 It is assumed interstate standard shoulders will be built as part of the construction project. The feasibility Study (Study) also indicated the NC 96 and US 264 interchanges would be modified as part of the construction project. Total estimated cost for the 6-lane project is $59.1 million. After the feasibility study came out, the NCDOT 2020-2029 Draft STIP included a project (I-6001) to upgrade Interstate 587, a planned spur route to Greenville is to start where US 264 splits off. This project was put on NCDOT's Suspended List in October 2019. *In October 2020, the NCDOT Board revised the 2020-2029 STIP "To Assist in the Balancing of Funds" and moved Right-of-Way purchases from FY 2025 to 2028 and construction costing $53.7 million from 2029 to 'Post Years' meaning the project is no longer funded.16
US 64 Freeway, US 264 exit in Zebulon to US 64 Alt./NC 231 exit in Spring Hope
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 9.8 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
US 64, after splitting off from US 264 is a 4-lane freeway with shoulders and bridges not up to interstate standards. The current 2020-2029 STIP does not have any projects to up grade this segment. Besides widening the shoulders to 12 feet, the Study recommends rebuilding 3 bridges, including at Alt. US 64/NC 231 at a total cost of $27.1 million. Currently not a funded project, thus not scheduled for construction until after 2029.
US 64 Freeway, US 64 Alt/NC 231 exit in Spring Hope to NC 58 exit in Nashville
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 11.9 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
US 64 in this segment is a substandard freeway. There are not improvement projects funded in the 2020-2029 STIP. According to the Study, this segment needs shoulders widened to 12 feet, the widening of the dual bridges over the Tar River and replacing the SR 1144 (Pine Street) bridge, along with the US 64 Alt Bridge in Nashville. Bridges with low vertical clearances at SR 1148 (Big Woods Road) will remain with pavement milling to achieve increased height. Estimated cost is $46 million. Currently not a funded project, construction cannot start until after 2029.
US 64 Freeway, NC 58 Exit in Nashville to I-95 in Rocky Mount
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 5.2 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Projects Funded: Yes
A project listed in the 2020-2029 STIP is to upgrade US 64 to Interstate Standards (U-6149) from NC 58 in Nash County to beyond I-95 to the Thomas Road overpass east of Rocky Mount, a total of 15.1 miles, but, unless accelerated, is not planned to start until after 2029, meaning the project is unfunded, though right of way purchases are will to start in 2029.17 There was a pavement rehabilitation project (I-6045) from SR 1306 (Old Franklin Road) in Nash County to I-95. This project was to be let on January 21, 2020 but was never advertised and later was deleted from the Letting List in February 2020, widening might have been a part of the contract.18 Another pavement rehabilitation project (I-6046) from Old Carriage Road (SR 1603) to Kingsboro Road (SR 1225) that was to start in 2022 has been delayed in the October STIP modification list to 2025, along with the replacement of the Old Carriage Road bridge recommended by the Study.19 The Study also for the segment has three different alternatives for the current median, keep it at current width (36 feet), widen it to 42 feet, or, with the use of a median barrier, reduce it to 26 feet. It recommended, but that the remaining bridges could simply be widened. The cost estimate range from $32.9 to $45.3 million depending on which median option is chosen.
I-95 in Rocky Mount to US 64 Alt./US 64 Bus./NC 43 South exit at eastern city limits of Rocky Mount
Route Type: 4-6 lane Freeway Length: 7.5 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Projects Funded: Yes
Most of this segment is also part of the unfunded project listed in the 2020-2029 STIP to upgrade US 64 to Interstate Standards (U-6149) from NC 58 in Nash County to beyond I-95 to the Thomas Road overpass east of Rocky Mount (except for the portion between the Thomas Road overpass and the US 64 Alt./US 64 Bus./NC 43 exit). There were several funded pavement and bridge rehabilitation projects for US 64 in Nash and Edgecombe Counties that were planned for this segment, I-6046 from I-95 to SR 1225 (Kingsboro Road), discussed under Segment 6,and I-6041 from SR 1225 to NC 33, both were to start in 2020 (I-6046 was to be let on January 21, but was later deleted from the funded project list in February 2020).20 They were later were to start in FY 2022, but then delayed to 2025 by STIP modifications in October 2020, along with Projects 6041A that will rehabilitate the bridges over US 64 in the area.21 Shoulder widening may be part of these contracts. Further upgrade work would be needed. The Study recommends two alternatives, one that would keep the current 65 MPH speed limit, the other with projects that would allow this segment to match the speed limit, 70 MPH, in the surrounding segments. Other projects in upgrading US 64 would involve creating auxiliary lanes between I-95 and the Winstead Avenue exit, replacing the eastbound bridge over Stony Creek and widening the westbound bridge and bridges for SR 1616 (Country Club Road) and SR 1243 (Leggett Road) to accommodate the auxiliary lanes. Loop ramps for Exits 467 (Bus. 64), 468A (US 301 Bypass), 468B (NC 43/48), 469 (US 301 Business) and 470 (NC 97) would also have to be rebuilt as part of the upgrade project. The 65 MPH alternative is estimated to cost $27.3 Million, while the 70 MPH version would be $32.9. These projects are likely not to start until after 2029.
US 64 from eastern Rocky Mount City Limits to western Tarboro City Limits
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 11.1 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Projects Funded: Yes
US 64 in this segment is a 4-lane freeway whose shoulders and bridges are not up to interstate standards. The two funded pavement rehabilitation projects for US 64 cited in Segment 7 would are for this segment too, I-6046 from I-95 to SR 1225 (Kingsboro Road), and I-6041 from SR 1225 to NC 33, both now to start in 2025.21 Shoulder widening may be part of these contracts. The Study recommends, besides widening the shoulders, that the US 64 East bridge over the CSX railroad tracks and both bridge over SR 1208 (Howard Avenue) be widened. Total cost is estimated at $27.2 million. This project is unfunded, thus not do to start until after 2029.
US 64 from western Tarboro City Limits to Edgecombe/Martin County Line
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 13.4 Miles Status: Interstate Standard* Upgrade Project Funded: Yes
While most of the shoulders in this segment are already interstate standard (east of US 64 Alt, Exit 486), this segment will still need some upgrades to be able to be signed as I-87. Funded pavement rehabilitation project I-6041, cited in Segment 8, covers the first 2.4 miles of this segment, shoulder widening may be part of this project. Project I-6042 covers the final 11 miles from NC 33 to the Martin County line and was to start in 2022, now delayed by the October 2020 STIP modifications to 2025.21 Further upgrade work is needed however. The Study recommends, besides shoulder widening of the eastbound bridge over the CSX railroad, replacing the US 64 Alt./US 258 South bridge over US 64 as well as both bridges over the Tar River. In addition to the US 64 bridge replacement, the study recommends revamping the interchange (Exit 485) as well as widening the interchanges at Exits 486 (US 64 Alt East/US 258 North), 487 (Kingsboro Road), 488 (Shiloh Farm Road), 491 (SR 1524/Chinquapin Road), 494 (NC 42) and 496 (US 13/NC 11). Total cost is estimated at $45.4 million. These projects are unfunded and won't be constructed at present until after 2029.
*Shoulders are interstate standard, except those to the west of the Tar River bridges which will have to be widened.
US 13/64 from Edgecombe/Martin County Line to US 17 in Williamston
Route Type: Interstate Standard Freeway Length: 18.4 Miles Status: Complete (signage could be updated)
The US 13/64 freeway from the Edgecombe/Martin County Line was built to interstate standards. The feasibility study only recommends possible signage updates and the addition of an ITS system costing $2.2 million. They also suggest the possible reconstruction of the NC 125 (Prison Camp Road) interchange which would add another $2.5 million to the total.
US 13/17 from US 64 Exit in Williamston to Roanoke River Bridge
Route Type: 4-Lane Highway Length: 1.4 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
I-87 is to continue along US 17 which runs concurrently with US 13 after the US 64 exit after which the highway becomes a 4-lane arterial roadway with businesses and side streets through Williamston. There is no project to upgrade this segment to an interstate in the 2020-2029 STIP. The US 17 Feasibilty Study (Study) suggests 3 alternatives. The first is an upgrade of the existing highway, the US 13/17 interchange with US 64 would be upgraded to a partial cloverleaf. Extensive ROW purchases would be required to create service roads parallel to US 13/17. The existing Roanoke River bridge would be used and a design exemption sought from the FHWA due to its narrow shoulders. The second suggested alternative would be a new freeway built to the east of US 13/17. The freeway would tie back into the existing route just south of the Roanoke River Bridge which would be retained, again with a design exemption sought for the insufficient shoulders. The third would include the new freeway from the second alternative but continue it across the Roanoke River on a new bridge meeting the existing US 13/17 just north of the bridge. The costs range from $75.3 million for the first alternative to $76 million for the third (the cost of a new bridge is offset by the reduced the cost for much fewer ROW purchases).
US 13/17 from Roanoke River Bridge to Pleasant Oak Road
Route Type: 4-Lane Highway Length: 8.5 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
US 13/17 in this segment is a 4-lane divided roadway with several intersections. No project is funded at this time. The Study has only one suggested alternative for the upgrading the current US 13/17 highway. Exits would be constructed for Outlaw Farm Road and George Leggett Road. The intersection with Willoughby Lane would be grade separated. A series of service roads would be created to tie businesses into the surrounding road network. Total cost is projected at $87.8 million.
US 13/17 from Pleasant Oak Road to Beginning of Windsor Bypass
Route Type: 4-Lane Highway Length: 4.5 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
The needed upgrades are currently not funded for this part of US 13/17. The Study has 2 alternatives for the segment: Upgrade the existing US 13/17 highway to interstate standards with the road being widened along the northbound side which would require taking properties. The existing southbound lanes would become a service road and a new service road would be built next to the northbound lanes. An interstate standard exit would be constructed for the split of US 13 from US 17 at the Windsor Bypass while grade separations would occur elsewhere. The second alternative is to build a new freeway to the west of existing US 13/17 with an interchange built north of Roquist Creek to provide access to current US 13/17. The freeway would tie back to the existing alignment at the Windsor Bypass. This alternative requires construction through wetlands as well as farmlands. The costs range from $60.7 million for the new freeway to $67.5 million for upgrading the existing road, the major expense being for right-of-way purchases estimated at $23.4 million.
US 17 Windsor Bypass
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 6.8 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
The US 17 Windsor Bypass is a 4-lane freeway that only needs a few modifications to become an interstate. While not project is listed to do this in the 2020-2029 STIP, the Study recommends widening the shoulders to 12 feet and minor modifications to the existing King Street and Wakelon Road exits. Costs are projected at $43.6 million.
East End of Windsor Bypass to Chowan River
Route Type: 4-lane Highway Length: 4.8 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
US 17 continues from the western end of the Windsor Bypass to the Chowan River bridge as a 4-lane expressway. No funding is available at this time for upgrading this segment. The Study suggests 2 alternatives. The first, upgrading the existing highway, would redo the interchange at the end of the Windsor Bypass to create a service road that would parallel US 17 until a proposed exit at Jamestown Road. Additional service roads would be built on either side of the highway ending just before the Chowan River bridge. Access to NC 45 would only be through the service roads. An additional exit would be built for Bal Gra Road. The second alternative would build a new freeway to the east/south of the existing US 17. Diamond interchanges would be built at NC 45 and Bal Gra Road, the Jamestown Road intersection would become a grade separation. Service roads would be built to the north of Bal Gra Road to the Chowan River. The cost of alternative 1 would be $132.9 million compared to $118.3 million for the second alternative. Again most of the differences in cost are due to additional ROW purchases required for the first alternative ($43.4 vs. $16.9 million).
Chowan River Bridge to northern end of Edenton Bypass
Route Type: 4-lane Highway/Freeway Length: 11.6 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Projects Funded: Yes
US 17 in this segment is a mix of a 4-lane expressway and access controlled freeway, the Edenton Bypass. There is a pavement rehabilitation project funded along US 17 for Chowan County (I-6027) which was to start in 2022, but has been delayed to 2025, it is unclear whether this will involve shoulder widening.24 For the freeway portion, the Study simply recommends widening of the road's shoulders. The existing Chowan River Bridge would be retained. For the 4-lane portion the study recommends upgrading the route to include service roads which would include using the existing southbound lanes as a service road in the vicinity of Thick Neck Road. A diamond interchange is recommended for the current intersection with Davenport Lane. Total costs are estimated at $87.5 million.
North end of Edenton Bypass to southern end of Elizabeth City Bypass
Route Type: 4-lane Highway Length: 19.0 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: Yes (Only for Hertford Bypass)*
US 17 between the Edenton Bypass and Elizabeth City Bypass is a 4-lane expressway with an existing Bypass around Hertford. The 2020-2029 STIP includes a project (R-5869) of upgrading intersections along the Hertford Bypass. The Bypass work includes the upgrade of the Harvey Point Road SR 11336 (R-5869A) and New Hope Road/SR 1300 intersections to interchanges. The October 2020 STIP revisions delayed these projects for 1 year from 2028 to 2029.23 There is also a pavement rehabilitation project planned along 5.8 miles of US 17 in Perquimans County (I-6030) which was to start in 2022, but has been delayed to 2025, it is unclear whether this will involve shoulder widening.24 The Study recommends 2 possible alternatives for the remainder of the segment. The first upgrades the existing highway to interstate standards requiring grade separations and the building of service roads north of a Davenport Road interchange. The service road along the southbound side would stop at a proposed diamond interchange at Bear Swamp Road, picking up again after the exit. A partial interchange would be constructed at Edenton Road while a half cloverleaf exit would be built at Church Street. The existing bridge would be used to cross the Perquimans River followed by a partial cloverleaf exit at Creek Drive. A partial cloverleaf interchange is proposed for Woodland Church Road with service roads constructed on both sides of US 17 to the north of the exit. The existing Okisko Road exit would be modified with minor ramp improvements. The second alternative follows the first until Wiggins Road where a partial cloverleaf interchange would be built. A new freeway would then be built to the north of the existing highway with a diamond interchange proposed for Chapanoke Road. A service road would be built to the west of the new freeway with it meeting the existing US 17 south of Okisko Road where that exit would be modified as in the first alternative. Costs are project to be $193.5 million for the first and $217.7 for the second. The highest cost for any Future I-87 segment.The I-6030 project was put on NCDOT's Suspended list in September 2019.
US 17 Elizabeth City Bypass
Route Type: 4-lane Freeway Length: 10.2 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: Yes
The US 17 Elizabeth City Bypass was built in 2002, but not to Interstate Standards. There is a funded pavement rehabilitation project in the 2020-2029 STIP (I-6029) to improve 9.9 miles of US 17 in Pasquotank County from the Perquimans County line to the northern end of the Bypass. The project will cost $15 million, was let on October 15, 2019 and work started on March 31, 2020.25 Shoulder widening may be part of this project. Besides shoulder widening though, the Study proposes additional right-of-way purchases needed to upgrade the freeway to an interstate. Costs are estimated at $36.4 million.
US 17 from North End of Elizabeth City Bypass to Dismal Swamp State Park
Route Type: 4-lane Highway Length: 8.1 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: No
A planned upgrade along US 17 from the end of the Elizabeth City Bypass to the Virginia border was dropped from the 2020-2029 STIP. There is a funded pavement rehabilitation project for this segment too, I-6026, which would cover this segment from the Pasquotank County border northward at a cost of $6 million,now to start in 2025, but more work would be needed to bring this segment up to interstate standards. The Study breaks this section into 2 segments. For this segment, from the end of the Elizabeth City Bypass to Dismal State Park, it recommends 1 alternative along the existing US 17 highway with a half cloverleaf interchange at US 158 and another at Northside Road to allow local traffic to enter the interstate. Total costs are estimated at $70.8 million. Elizabeth City officials are working with NCDOT to determine the final alignment of the interstate and have discussed projects including adding bike lanes along the route as part of a proposed Main to Florida bike trail called the East Coast Greenway. The Elizabeth City Council endorsed the bike route plan in December 2018 in hopes it might help speed the securing of a final alignment of I-87 through the area.26
US 17 from Dismal Swamp State Park to Virginia Border
Route Type: 4-lane Highway Length: 4.6 Miles Status: Not Interstate Standard Upgrade Project Funded: Yes
As with the previous segment, the remaining length of US 17 north to the Virginia Border had funds for an upgrade project removed from the 2020-2029 STIP. The pavement rehabilitation project, I-6026, from Segment 18 would cover this segment as well, but more work would be needed to bring this segment up to interstate standards. The Study recommends 2 alternatives. The first alternative is to upgrade US 17 to interstate standards using the existing bridge over the Dismal Swamp. A service road would be provided to the east of US 17 for local business access. At the current intersection with McPherson Road the US 17 alignment would shift east and a partial cloverleaf interchange would be built to allow access to the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center, the current US 17 would become a connector to the Welcome Center. The service road would continue north to the Virginia border. The second alternative is more complicated. It would involve the same alignment with a new interchange at McPherson Road as the first alternative but the service road would be built further east to intersect local residential streets. It would also involve building, at the McPherson Road interchange, a 7-mile connector road traveling east between US 17 and NC 168 that would be routed through farm, forest and swamp lands. The estimated cost for the first alternative is $75.8 million while it is $125 million for the second. While the NC 168 connector is not part of the approved route for I-87, some have suggested the interstate use it so it can access the VA 168 toll freeway to Chesapeake. Both the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Economic Development Commission and Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners adopted resolutions against the second alternative.22
NCDOT has 30 years from the future interstate designation to make the necessary upgrades. Therefore, it could be a long time before the entire route can be signed a full interstate. Also how receptive Virginia is to building its section might determine the length of construction for US 17. Both studies have no timetable for construction but uses forecasted 2040 traffic counts in the Level of Service estimates for each alternative.26
As noted above, overhead signage with I-87 shields will not be put up until the completion of the I-40 widening project between NC 42 and I-87/I-440. The only I-87 references are 2 ground mounted signs, above with North I-87 and Right Lane and...
This one with a right diagonal arrow.
Signage on I-87 South, US 64/264 West
Photo of ramp signage along US 64 Business in Wendell:
Photos taken of nearly completed new signage project in June 2019:
A new To South I-87 trailblazer in Wendell.
There was not a previous reassurance marker sign after the Business 64 exit, this more standard assembly was put up in June 2019.
The 1/2 mile advance sign for Wendell Falls Parkway now has an I-87 exit number tab.
And the exit gore sign also has the new I-87 exit number.
One of the new I-87 mile markers. This is not to current NCDOT specs which would include an I-87 shield and direction. Is NCDOT being cheap or is there another reason?
The exit tabs for Smithfield Road have all been changed to use the I-87 exit number.
The new mile markers are placed every 1/2 mile.
Signage, both overhead and ground-level, feature new I-87 exit numbers at the Smithfield Road off-ramp.
As with northbound, this reassurance marker after Smithfield Road was updated by replacing the I-495 shield with an I-87 one.
The 1-Mile Advance sign for I-540 with the new I-87 exit number tab.
The exit tabs and gore sign have been revised for I-87 heading further south at the I-540 exit in Knightdale.
A closer look at the new Exit 7 gore sign (just prior to a Mile 8 marker).
Overhead signage at the Hodge Road exit with new exit number tabs (and new exit 6 gore sign in distance).
The 1/2 mile advance sign for Hodge Road has the new I-87 number as traffic crosses Crabtree Creek.
Previously placed, and now unneeded, South I-87 trailblazer prior to 1/2 mile advance sign with I-87 exit number for I-440 West exit.
A closer look at the overhead pull through and I-440 West exit signs.
Approaching the I-440 West exit with I-87 taking ramp to join I-440 East.
Closeup of new (or is it recycled old?) End US 264 sign ahead of now unneeded South I-87 trailblazer approaching I-440.
The new pull through for South I-87/West US 64 and new I-87 exit tab on the I-440 West exit sign (new I-87 Exit 3 gore sign in distance).I-440 East
This End I-87/I-440 sign replaces the End I-440 sign/ End I-87 trailblazer combination with the same information prior to the I-40 exit (see photo below).
I-87 shield painted on Smithfield Road approaching Knightdale Bypass interchange (courtesy of Adam Prince):
I-87 trailblazer (courtesy of Brian Johnson):
Signage along US 64/264 put up in early September 2017 (photos courtesy of Adam Prince):
Temporary I-87 reassurance markers have gone up next to existing guide signs, in this case for I-495/US 64/US 264. Sign to be revised under an upcoming contract by July 2019 (see below).
Another South I-87 reassurance marker beyond where I-495 was signed between I-440 and I-540.
There are also some stand-along reassurance markers as well.
An additional photo by Ben Thurkill showing a new temporary end I-87 sign next to existing End I-440, this too will be replaced by a new sign with both shields:
NCDOT traffic image showing South I-87 reassurance marker put up next to existing US 64/264 West guide sign after Smithfield Road exit. Finally, An I-87 trailblazer from a Triangle Business Journal article:
NCDOT has placed a new Future I-87 sign on the former site of a Future I-495 sign on US 64 East in Franklin County, photo courtesy of Ben Thurkill on August 24, 2017:
Photos taken on March 31 and April 2, 2017 (Hover over for larger image):
Current signage approaching the Knightdale Bypass on I-440 West. The I-495 sign should be swapped out for I-87 in the not so distant future.
The next set of overhead signs taken approaching the Knightdale Bypass on I-440 West, the I-495 signs days are numbered.
Overhead signs at the exit itself, swapping I-87 shields for I-495 should not be too difficult.
This Begin I-495 sign just before the New Hope Road exit days are numbered, though still standing as of May 2018. The sign is already obsolete according to the FHWA.
Changing this reassurance marker sign following New Hope Road to I-87 should be simple enough.
Same for this overhead sign at the current eastern end of I-540 at the Knightdale Bypass.
Heading back South on the Knightdale Bypass this sign will also need an I-87 shield to replace the I-495 one.
This overhead assembly approaching I-440, and the others will need to be changed since I-87 is to take I-440 East to I-40.
This end sign for I-495 is also now obsolete. Will NCDOT simply remove the I-495 shield or replace the whole sign?
This I-495 trailblazer at the Hodge Road interchange will need to be changed, a simple swapping of I-87 for I-495 shields should happen soon.
A second photo of the signage at the on-ramp to Future I-87 North. Only NCDOT currently knows when the I-495 shields will be removed for I-87.
Then Governor McRory at Future I-87 Sign unveiling event in November 2016. Photo Courtesy of NCDOT.28
Photo of Future I-87 sign on US 64 west of Williamston, Courtesy of Adam Prince, March 18, 2017:
Covered sign on East US 64/US 264 for new Wendell Falls Parkway exit then under construction along US 64/264, the development the exit was built for was later a victim of the recession. (8/7/2009)
Sign on East US 64/US 264 for now open Wendell Falls Parkway along US 64/264 in January 2010, the exit was open even if no place to go to. (1/15/2010)
Sign for the Wendell exit on US 64/264 East after the eastern end of the Knightdale Bypass. I-87 will not be signed, at least as a full interstate, in this area until the shoulders are widened. (1/15/2010)
Sign for one of the major interchanges along Future I-87, that for the split with US 264, which was given the I-587 designation in December 2016, in January 2010. Substandard shoulders in view. (1/15/2010)
Signage approaching the split of US 64 and US 264 East (Future I-587). This exit is probably not up to current standards, and may have to be rebuilt. (1/15/2010)