New exit numbers coming to I-87 in eastern Wake County

Widening project also approved

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RALEIGH — Signs along Knightdale Bypass in eastern Wake County will be updated starting this week with new exit numbers as a project to transform the highway into an interstate moves forward.

The exits will be renumbered from Interstate 440 in Raleigh to Rolesville Road near Knightdale, two years after this stretch of U.S. Highway 64/264 was rebranded Interstate 87, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The Federal Highway Administration approved creating Interstate 87 in 2016, with plans for the road to stretch from Raleigh to Norfolk, Virginia. In 2017, signs went up renaming a portion of the highway from Raleigh to Rolesville Road — which is already at interstate standards — as Interstate 87.

The rest of the stretch, which includes U.S. 17 to the state line with Virginia, is labeled “Future I-87.”

Work to complete the transition and update all of the corridor to interstate standards is expected to take about two decades, the Department of Transportation said.

Earlier this year, state officials green-lit plans to widen the next portion of the highway, from where I-87 ends at Rolesville Road and ending where highways 64 and 264 split east of Zebulon.

That project, which wouldn’t begin until around 2028, would widen the road from four lanes to six, according to a project description on the Department of Transportation’s website. The project was added to a draft plan of the state’s 2020-29 State Transportation Improvement Program project list, which, when formally adopted this summer, will outline the state’s transportation goals for the next 10 years.

The widening would cost an estimated $59 million and would relieve congestion and improve safety and mobility, according to the project description.

Until then, the new exit numbers are the only sign that change is coming.

After being renamed Interstate 87, the road kept the same exit numbers, based on positioning in the U.S. 64 system. Those numbers range from exit 419 (at Interstate 440) to 430 (Rolesville Road/Wendell Boulevard).

Starting this week, state workers will install new signs numbering those exists from 3 to 14.

The work is expected to finish by the end of July.

“Some sections of the existing highway were already built to interstate standards and could be signed quickly,” the Department of Transportation said in a statement May 10. “Others will get the signage as work is completed to change the highway to those standards over the next two decades.”