Interstate 440 North Carolina
Known as the Cliff Benson Beltline, Interstate 440 forms the northern two thirds of the 25.2 mile long Raleigh beltway. Built in the 1960s, the freeway winds northeast from I-40 near Lake Jackson to North Carolina State University and U.S. 70 by Crabtree Valley Mall. U.S. 1 accompanies the route east to Exit 11, as I-440 turns back south. I-87/U.S. 64 combine with I-440 from west of Knightdale south 2.70 miles to I-40 at Southeast Raleigh.
Started in Fall 2019, construction underway through 2024 expands and reconstructs U.S. 1/64 and Interstate 440 from southwest of Walnut Street (SR 1313) in Cary to north of Wade Avenue (SR 1728) in Raleigh. This is the oldest section of the Cliff Benson Beltline, having been built in the 1960s.
Future construction, potentially beginning in 2025, both rebuilds the cloverleaf interchange joining I-40 and I-440/U.S. 1-64 and widens I-40 from the exchange to Lake Wheeler Road. Estimated to cost $179 million, three alternatives for partial turbine interchanges are considered for the project.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) submitted applications to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) ahead of the Spring 1999 meeting for an array of routes in the Raleigh urban area. Actions approved on June 9, 1991 established Interstate 440 along the Cliff Benson Beltline in conjunction with the elimination of I-40 Business and U.S. 70 Business and relocation for sections of U.S. 64, U.S. 70 and U.S. 401:
These several routes are presently assigned to various sections of the Raleigh Beltline thus creating a confusing signing arrangement. The relocation of the bulk of these US routes and the establishment of the Interstate route number for the entire facility will alleviate signing overload on the facility, and will facilitate map interpretation of the facility. A less confusing and resultant safter route numbering system will prevail, thus greatly benefitting the travelling public.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) previously approved the requested addition of 16.74 miles of the Raleigh Beltline to the Interstate System under 23 U.S.C. 139(a). The proposed Interstate 440 included an overlap with I-40 to form a full circumferential route around the city. Two exceptions for Interstate design standards were noted in a March 26, 1991 letter to NCDOT:
1. Bridge width of 28 feet for three sets of bridges located at Lake Boone Trail, Yadkin Drive, and Old Wake Forest Road. As you have agree, these bridges will be widening to full Interstate standards as part of the projects already scheduled between 1991 and 1995.
2 A paved right shoulder width of 4 feet on a usable shoulder width of 12 feet from the I-40 southwest junction to the Raleigh-Chapel Hill Expressway. As you have agreed, the shoulder will be improved to full Interstate standards when this portion of the Raleigh Beltline is reconstructed.
When Interstate 440 was first signed, it used cardinal directions based upon the direction of travel. So along the portion through the east side of Raleigh, I-440 used north/south banners, while the stretch to the north used east/west signage.1 The signing of I-440 was later changed to use an inner and outer orientation, similar to those found on the I-277 inner belt freeway around Downtown Charlotte and the I-485 beltway around Mecklenburg County.
Prior to the designation of Interstate 440 along the Cliff Benson Beltline, U.S. 1, U.S. 64, U.S. 70 and NC 50 utilized portions of the freeway between Cary and the temporary east end at Poole Road. U.S. 401 was added to the route when the Tom Bradshaw Freeway (I-40) portion of the beltway was completed in 1984 as U.S. 64 shifted to the new I-40. Motorist confusion resulted and NCDOT resturned portions of the U.S. 70, U.S. 401 and NC 50 back through the city center in 1991.1
Plans announced in August of 2003 removed the I-440 designation from the concurrency with I-40 along the southern third of the Raleigh belt line while restoring cardinal (east-west) direction banners along the remainder of the route. The renumbering was reinforced by local references to the I-440 segment as the “Beltline” and the I-40/440 portion as simply “I-40”.2
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-440 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: 2019 NCDOT AADT Mapping Application
The initial potion of the Cliff Benson Beltline opened in 1960 as an extension of the U.S. 1 freeway from Chatham and southwest Wake Counties to end at Hillsborough Street. The route was extended another eight miles to Capitol Boulevard in 1963.
The I-40/440 concurrency was one of 2-digit Interstates overlapped with a branch route. Other entries include I-95/495 around Washington, DC, I-87/287 across the Hudson River in New York, I-94/694 in the Twin Cities, MN and I-80/580 at Berkeley, CA.
Citing some confusion and problems with the motoring public, NCDOT petition the FHWA on September 3, 2008 for the elimination of I-440 along the 8.36 mile long concurrent segment with I-40 between U.S. 1 and the I-40/U.S. 64 split. FHWA approval was granted, but subject to concurrence of AASHTO. A subsequent application for the elimination of I-440 was approved by AASHTO on October 17, 2008. It added that the dual designation also created inaccuracies in the reporting of crash data.
According to Brian LeBlanc’s former Wake County Roads web site, signs changes along I-40 where I-440 formerly overlapped were made by 2009.
East End – Raleigh, North Carolina
South East West at
East End Throwback
West End – Raleigh, North Carolina
West South at
Interstate 440 west concludes at a cloverleaf interchange (Exit 1) with I-40 and U.S. 64. U.S. 64 branches west from U.S. 1 southbound toward Apex, Sanford and Asheboro. I-440 previously combined with I-40 east through Southwest Raleigh via the loop ramp at Exit 1 B. 07/12/05
North East at
U.S. 1 north at the cloverleaf interchange (Exit 1) where U.S. 64 shifts east onto I-40 to Southeast Raleigh and Interstate 440 begins. 12/15/16
West End Throwback
West South at
- The Baffling Beltline – A Photo Essay of the Raleigh Beltline’s Colorful Past (Adam Prince)
- Rhodes, S.D. “Raleigh Beltline to change signage yet again…” Online posting, Yahoo Groups – Southeast Roads and Transport, Aug. 30, 2002.
Page updated April 10, 2023.