Interstate 885 North Carolina
Interstate 885 runs along the Durham Freeway north from I-40 and the Triangle Expressway (Toll NC 885) at Research Triangle Park to the East End Connector. Opened to traffic on June 30, 2022, the East Connector is a 1.25 mile long roadway constructed between the Durham Freeway and the east Durham bypass (U.S. 70) near East End Avenue. I-885 overlays 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 delayed to June 2021 and then December 2021, the project was completed overall in Summer 2022. Final paving operations for the East End Connector commenced in the first week of May 2022 between I-85 and the connector. Sign installation for I-885 commenced during the second week of May 2022. Upon completion NC 147 was truncated north from I-40 to the East End Connector. The TriEx south from I-40 to Toll NC 540 (Western Wake Expressway) was renumbered from Toll NC 147 to Toll NC 885.5
Completion of the East End Connector was delayed from June to December 2021 due to the demolition of a temporary railroad bridge for CSX and Norfolk Southern Railroad trains spanning U.S. 70 near where it converges with I-885. The concrete piers for the bridge blocked 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 was responsible for laying tracks on the crossing, which was expected to take place during Summer 2021.1
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) submitted Interstate 885 to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at the Spring 2022 meeting. It was approved. 2014 sign schematics by NCDOT previously showed the route acknowledged for the East End Connector.4
North End – Durham, North Carolina
North East at
U.S. 70 separates from I-85/U.S. 15 north at the directional T interchange (Exit 178) with 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
South End Triangle Expressway – Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
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 I-885 south with I-40 east and I-40 west with the Durham Freeway north. Interstate 885 concludes at I-40 and the north end of the TriEx (Toll NC 885). 05/31/21
- “Opening of Durham East End Connector delayed for 6 more months.” Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC), June 5, 2021.
- “I-885, the next highway in Durham: What it looks like and when it will open.” Herald-Sun, The (Durham, NC), July 18, 2018.
- “NCDOT project closes section of N. Miami Boulevard in Durham – The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).” News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) June 10, 2015.
- “New Interstate 885 in Durham” online posting by bob7374, AARoads Forum, August 19, 2014.
- “Final Paving Begins as East End Connector Project Wraps Up.” North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), press release. May 4, 2022.
Page updated December 10, 2022.