The Complete 540 project is a proposed south-east extension of Triangle Expressway from North Carolina Highway 55 (NC 55) bypass in Apex to US 64/US 264 (I-495) in Knightdale, North Carolina, US.

Being developed by North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) as part of its State Transportation Improvement Programme, the project is estimated to cost approximately $2.2bn.

The extension will reduce traffic congestion in North Carolina’s growing areas, including I-440, I-40, NC 42, NC 55, and Ten Ten Road. It will also connect a number of towns and cities through the regional roadway network by completing the outer loop of the North Carolina Highway 540 (NC 540) around Raleigh.

Complete 540 project timeline

NCDOT began planning studies for the environmental impact statement (EIS) of the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension project at the end of 2009. It published the draft alternatives development and analysis report in September 2013.

“The extension will reduce traffic congestion in North Carolina’s growing areas.”

The preferred alternative for the project was finalised in April 2016, following the completion of three public meetings and a formal public hearing. The US Federal Highway Administration (FDA) approved the final EIS in December 2017.

NCDOT and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA) received the record of decision from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in June 2018.

The construction will be carried out in three phases, including project R-2721 (from NC 55 Bypass to US 401), project R-2828 (from US 401 to I-40), and project R-2829 (from I-40 to US 64/264 Bypass (I-495)).

Construction on the first two segments will be started in 2019 and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The design-build contract for the third segment is expected to be awarded in 2027.

Complete 540 route details

The Complete 540 project will extend the Triangle Expressway by 28.4 miles (45.8km) from NC 55 bypass in Apex to US 64/US 264 (I-495) in Knightdale.

The extended roadway will be a tolled, limited-access highway with three 12ft lanes in each direction. It will have a median width of 70ft with a speed limit of 70 miles per hour.

It will run from west to east through the Orange corridor segment, the Green corridor segment’s southern portion, Mint corridor segment, andthe Green corridor’s northern portion. The route will connect towns of Apex, Cary, Clayton, Garner, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs, as well as the area of Raleigh.

Interchanges will be built at major roadways along the route to provide access to and from the proposed highway.

The project will enable a direct connection from I-40 in south-west Durham to I-40 near the Wake/Johnston County line and to US 64/US 264 east of Raleigh.

Contractors involved

NCDOT awarded the first of the three major contracts worth $403m to a joint venture (JV) between Lane Construction and Blythe Construction, a subsidiary of Eurovia, in November 2018, for the expansion of the Triangle Expressway from US 401 to I-40 in the Wake and Johnston counties.

The JV is responsible for the construction of a 12.8km-long six-lane highway section of Complete 540 project, including five million cubic metres of earthworks, construction of 29 bridges, laying of 290,000m² of concrete pavement, and placement of approximately 135,000t of hot mix asphalt.

Worth $160m, the second contract was awarded to a JV between Flatiron and Branch Civil in February 2019 for the construction of Complete 540 from east of Pierce Olive Road to east of US 401 in Wake county, and an interchange at US 401.