Interstate 587 will overlay the freeway along U.S. 264 east from the split with U.S. 64 (Future I-87) at Zebulon to Greenville. The rural freeway joins Raleigh with Wilson, where U.S. 264 overlaps with Interstate 795 southeast between I-95 and its continuation south to Goldsboro.
With upgrades to Interstate standards completed east from Wilson, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) conditionally approved the establishment of Interstate 587 between I-95/795-U.S. 264 in Wilson County and U.S. 264/NC 11 at Greenville in Pitt County at the Spring 2021 Meeting. The action covers approximately 37.07 miles along U.S. 264.
The Quad-East plan called for connecting four of the largest metropolitan areas in North Carolina east of Interstate 95, including Greenville, Wilson, Goldsboro and Kinston. Envisioned as an interstate quality loop, I-795 constitutes the Wilson to Golsboro leg and I-587 along U.S. 264 represents the northern section.
Future I-42 along U.S. 70 represents the Goldsboro to Kinston segment to the south. Also part of Future I-42, construction from 2018 to March 1, 2021 extended C.F. Harvey Parkway (NC 148) east 5.8 miles from NC 58 to NC 11.
Work on the Southwest Bypass for NC 11 in Pitt County started in August 2016. The 12.6 mile long freeway south from I-587/U.S. 264 to Ayden was completed on November 21, 2019. With five interchanges and 22 bridges, the Southwest Bypass opened seven months ahead of the scheduled completion.7 NC 11 between the two freeways will need future upgrades to Interstate standards to complete the loop.6
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) applied for Interstate status along U.S. 264 to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in September 2016.1 While it appeared that AASHTO would reject the proposal,2 as announced by the office of Governor Pat McCrory on November 15, 2016, the Route Numbering Committee instead approved I-587. The decision added the city of Greenville to the Interstate system, which supporters hope will further spur economic development in eastern North Carolina. Previous efforts from NCDOT in 2016 added Future I-42 and Future I-87 to this region of the state.3
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the NCDOT application for Interstate 587 by November 21, 2016.4 Approximately $100 million in improvements are needed to bring the route to Interstate standards. Upgrades include expanding shoulders from the Wilson and Greene County line east to Exit 73. The outside shoulders along this stretch were only four feet in width, while Interstate standards require ten foot shoulders.5 Additionally some of the overpasses spanning U.S. 264 do not meet current clearance standards.1
A $22.5 million project underway from May 2020 to March 2021 upgraded U.S. 264 to Interstate standards between the Wilson County line and the exchange with NC 11 (Southwest Bypass) / Stantonsburg Road (SR 1467) at Greenville. Resurfacing over 18 miles of roadway across Greene and Pitt Counties, work expanded shoulders and added guardrails.8