Editor's Note: This story was updated July 1, 2022, to reflect I-885's opening.
A stoplight-free drive between I-40 and I-85 is now open for drivers in Durham, North Carolina, with the completion of a new Interstate 885.
Final paving and road striping have been completed for the East End Connector that links N.C. 147, also known as the Durham Freeway, with U.S. 70.
The project involved building a 1.25-mile freeway from N.C. 147 to U.S. 70 and converting 2.75 miles of U.S. 70 to a freeway as part of the connector.
The new I-885 runs concurrently with U.S. 70 between I-85 and the connector, along the connector, and on existing N.C. 147 between the connector and I-40, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
N.C. 147 now no longer begins at I-40, but at the connector and goes northwest through Durham, NCDOT says. Several exit numbers also changed, and Toll N.C. 147, which goes from I-40 south to Toll N.C. 540, has changed to Toll N.C. 885.
The goals of the project are to reduce traffic congestion on N.C. 147 through downtown Durham and divert traffic off local roads used as connectors between I-85 and I-40. It is also hoped it will improve economic development in areas along the I-85 corridor by improving access for travel and goods between Durham and areas north, such as Research Triangle Park, Raleigh Durham-International Airport and Wake County, according to NCDOT.
I-885’s official opening was June 30.
The contractor on the $142 million project is Dragados USA. The contract was awarded in 2015. The freeway was originally planned to be completed in 2019, but demolition of a railroad bridge over U.S. 70 was delayed from 2018 to this year.