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Interstate 540 (abbreviated I-540) is the designation for the northern completed part of the perimeter loop of Raleighmarker, North Carolinamarker (not to be confused with the I-440 Beltline). Known formally as the Northern Wake Expressway or the Outer Loop, it runs 30.5 miles (49 km) from I-40 near Page Road and the Durham/Wake county line, around the northern part of Raleigh to US 64/US 264 (Knightdale Bypass) in Knightdale, North Carolinamarker. The completed section is only one part of a proposed outer loop that will total nearly 70 miles (112 km) in length (see breakdown in table below).

NC 540 is the designation given to the Western Wake Parkway, the western section of Raleigh's second freeway loop. As of August 2007, the North Carolina state route traverses east-west between NC 55 and I-40 at the I-540 interchange. Initially intended to be signed as an extension of the I-540 loop, the route bears mile markers and exit numbers for the complete Interstate loop, going from 66 to 69.


, less than one half of the project has been completed and is open to traffic. On July 14, 2007, a section of the loop from I-40 west to NC 54 and NC 55 was opened . However, the route is signed not as I-540 but as NC 540. Officials decided to change the designation in early July at the urging of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA). Work on the western and southern portions of the beltway, if paid for by state funds, would possibly not open until 2030. At the request of several Wake Countymarker mayors, the NCTA in 2006 began studying the use of tolls to complete these portions of the Outer Loop.

The Authority concluded in early 2007 that it would be financially feasible to build the western section (along with an extended Durham Freeway, which combined would be called the "Triangle Expressway") using toll funds. The NCTA apparently never wanted an interstate designation for the Western Wake Parkway. To lessen motorist confusion about where I-540 ended, the route was truncated to the I-40 interchange. All I-540 signs that were put up along the unopened stretch between I-40 and NC 55 were taken down in early July 2007; the new section is now signed as NC 540. (In addition, I-540 as a completed loop would violate the Interstate numbering convention regarding three-digit routes, as spurs begin with an odd number and loops with an even number, and at one point, I-640 — the last remaining available number within the state, as I-240, I-440 and I-840 are already taken — was proposed for the loop.) Work to build the Western Wake Freeway, which would be renamed the "Western Wake Parkway" under the toll proposal, began August 12, 2009, with the Triangle Parkway portion scheduled to open in late 2011, and Western Wake portion scheduled for 2012. The state legislature so far, however, has not included gap funding (to fill the missing funds between the total construction costs and that that can be raised by tolls) to help the NCTA start construction, which could mean a later completion date.

In October 2008, the authority was unable to issue bonds to fund the Western Wake Turnpike project as planned due to market conditions affecting municipal bonds such as those. On July 29, 2009, the Authority closed on a revised $1.01 billion bond plan, consisting of $270 million in toll revenue bonds, $353 million in Build America Bonds, and a $387 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.


The existing, under construction, and proposed segments of the Outer Loop are as follows:
Segment Name Location Mileage
Northern Wake Expressway NC 55 to US 64 29.0
Western Wake Freeway (Parkway) NC 55 North of Apex to NC 55 South of Apex 12.4
Southern Wake Freeway NC 55 to I-40 near Garner 16.5
Eastern Wake Freeway I-40 to US 64 12.9
Total 70.8

Exit list

This exit list encompasses both NC 540 and I-540.

County Location Mile # Destinations Notes
Wakemarker 66.4 66 Signed as exits 66A (east) and 66B (west)
68.4 67 Davis Drive
Morrisvillemarker 69.2 69
Durhammarker 70.0
1 , RTPmarker Signed as exits 1A (east) and 1B (west); east end of NC 540; west end of I-540
Wakemarker Raleighmarker 2.0 2 Aviation Parkway – RDU Airportmarker Signed as exits 2A (south) and 2B (north)
4.0 3 Lumley Road
4.2 4 Signed as exits 4A (east) and 4B (west)
7.0 7 Leesville Road
9.2 9
Raleighmarker 11.4 11 Six Forks Road
13.8 14 Falls of Neuse Road
16.8 16
17.0 17 Triangle Town Boulevard Serves the Triangle Town Centermarker
18.4 18
20.2 20 Buffaloe Road
24.6 24 Signed as exits 24A (west) and 24B (east) eastbound
25.8 26 Signed as exits 26A (west) and 26B (east) eastbound

When NCDOT initially posted the exit signs for exits 66 A/B, 68, and 69, they had posted them as 47 A/B, 49, and 50. The reason for the discrepancy was an apparent error made when summing the mileage for the new highway by the NCDOT's GIS unit, about of the proposed route was left out. NCDOT corrected the exit numbers and corresponding mileposts prior to the road opening in mid-July 2007.


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