Interstate 885 North Carolina

Interstate 885 North Carolina
North End
South End


Interstate 885 will run along the Durham Freeway (NC 147) north from I-40 and the Triangle Expressway (Toll NC 147) at Research Triangle Park to the East End Connector. Opening to traffic in December 2021, the East Connector is a 1.25 mile long roadway under construction between the Durham Freeway and the east Durham bypass (U.S. 70) near East End Avenue. I-885 will overlay U.S. 70 northward to I-85/U.S. 15 at Exit 178. 2.75 miles of U.S. 70 were upgraded to limited access standards. Previously anticipated to open to traffic in November 2019 and then June 2021, the project will be completed overall in Spring 2022.

Completion of the East End Connector was delayed from June to December 2021. This was due to the demolition of a temporary railroad bridge for CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroad trains spanning U.S. 70 near where it merges with I-885. The concrete piers for the bridge block a portion of the new lanes for the wider road. A permanent replacement bridge for the Norfolk Southern Railroad was already complete, but the CSX Railroad bridge was still without tracks. Built by a North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) contractor, winter weather delayed construction for the CSX span. CSX is responsible for laying tracks on the crossing, which was expected to take place during Summer 2021.1

Route Information

  • North End – Durham, NC

  • South End – Research Triangle Park, NC

  • Mileage – TBD

  • Cities – Durham

  • JunctionsI-40 I-85

Source: —


The East End Connector was first proposed in 1959 as part of the city of Durham’s thoroughfare plan. The freeway was funded by a bond referendum in 1962, with the first section completed in 1970. Additional exits were added in the 1990s. NCDOT studied the connector again in the late 1990s, but construction was still unfunded in project lists issued in 2003 and 2005. It eventually was incorporated in the 2009-15 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP).2 A ground breaking ceremony for the project took place in April 2015.3

Right of way acquisition for the East End Connector commenced in April 2012. Construction on the $142 million project was pushed back from April 2014 to a starting date in February 2015. Work was originally anticipated to run through May 2020, then November 2020.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will submit Interstate 885 to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at a future meeting. 2014 sign schematics by NCDOT previously showed the route acknowledged for the East End Connector.4

North End I-85 US 15 US 70 – Durham, North Carolina

I-85 US 15 North US 70 East at I-885

I-85/US 15-70 north at I-885 - Durham, NC

U.S. 70 separates from I-85/U.S. 15 north at the directional T interchange (Exit 178) with Future I-885 south in east Durham. This exchange was upgraded from a single a wye as part of a $210 million project in 1999-2008 to reconstruct I-85 from Exit 173 to 178 through Durham. 05/31/21

I-85 US 15 South at I-885 US 70

I-85/US 15 south at I-885/US 70 - Durham, NC

I-85/U.S. 15 travel southwest from Falls Lake and Gorman into the city of Durham. Future I-885 branches south alongside U.S. 70 at Exit 178 toward Joyland and Bethesda. 05/29/31

South End I-40 Toll NC 147 Triangle Expressway – Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

I-885 South at I-40 Toll NC 147

I-885 south at I-40/NC 885 - Durham

A three quarter cloverleaf interchange joins the south end of the Durham Freeway, north end of the tolled Triangle Expressway (TriEx) and I-40 within Research Triangle Park. Directional ramps connect NC 147 south with I-40 east and I-40 west with the Durham Freeway north. Interstate 885 will conclude at I-40 and the north end of the TriEx. The TriEx south to Toll NC 540 (Western Wake Expressway) will be renumbered from Toll NC 147 to Toll NC 885. 05/31/21

  1. “Opening of Durham East End Connector delayed for 6 more months.” Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC), June 5, 2021.
  2. “I-885, the next highway in Durham: What it looks like and when it will open.” Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC), July 18, 2018.
  3. “NCDOT project closes section of N. Miami Boulevard in Durham – The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).” News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) June 10, 2015.
  4. New Interstate 885 in Durham” online posting by bob7374, AARoads Forum, August 19, 2014.

Page updated July 10, 2021.