East End Connector / Durham Northeastern Bypass

Project First Proposed: 1960s   Interstate First Proposed: 2014
Construction Started: February 2015  Completion Date: July 2019?


    The Route: From I-85/US 70 interchange east of Durham to current I-40/NC 147 - Durham Freeway interchange

    in Research Triangle Park, 8 miles


This proposed interstate, not officially submitted for approval, was first shown in signage plans for the Durham East End Connector Project, placed online on August 19, 20141, would run from the current I-85/US 70 interchange in Durham to I-40 in Research Triangle Park and use the Connector built to provide a direct connection between the Durham Freeway (NC 147) and US 70 (Miami Boulevard), as well as improvements to upgrade US 70 to a limited access freeway from Pleasant Drive to north of Holloway Street (NC 98).

Latest Photos - Taken on March 31 and April 2, 2017:

First the western section, NC 147, between Briggs Avenue and Ellis Road, heading South then turning around:

Image of view from Briggs Ave. on-ramp onto NC 147 South approaching East End Connector work zone
Entering NC 147 South from the Briggs Ave. on-ramp showing traffic being shifted to a temporary bridge while the future southbound lanes and ramps are being constructed.

Image taken of NC 147 South approaching temporary bridge in East End Connector work zone
About to head over the temporary bridge on NC 147 South showing concrete has been poured for future Southbound lanes and bridge approaching the Future I-885 North off-ramp.

Image taken on NC 147 South of East End Connector construction zone
A little further south, concrete barriers separate NC 157 South traffic from future southbound lanes approaching interchange fly-over ramps.

Image showing progress in completing support structure for Future I-885 North on-ramp from NC 147 in Durham
Approaching the flyover ramp that will take NC 147 South traffic to I-885 North showing not all the overhead beams have been installed yet. To the right, not all of the concrete roadway has been placed for the future South lanes.

Image taken south of I-885 flyover ramps along NC 147 South in Durham
Traveling further south after the flyover ramps with the future NC 147 South lanes now elevated to the right.

Image taken of Future NC 147 South lanes being built as part of East End Connector project in Durham
Work is ongoing in building the future I-885/NC 147 South lanes south of the interchange with both lanes of current traffic in the future North lanes.

Image taken of southbound lane construction for Future I-885/NC 147 South in Durham
Construction of new I-885/NC 147 South lanes continues south from the East End Connector toward Ellis Road, with Glover Road bridge in distance.

Image taken of southern end of East End Connector work zone from NC 147 South in Durham
Power line warning signs and the start of concrete placement on the future Southbound lanes highlight the southern part of the East End Connector work zone.

Image taken of view along NC 147 North approaching East End Connector work zone in Durham
Turning around at Ellis Road and heading north, the East End Connector work zone is first viewed prior to passing under the Glover Road bridge.

Image taken traveling NC 147 North toward future I-885 interchange in Durham
Work on the Future Southbound lanes can be barely seen above the median barriers as seen from North NC 147.

Image taken of East End Connector construction from NC 147 North in Durham
Approaching the future split of NC 147 with I-885 North, work on the future southbound lanes can be seen to the left.

Image showing construction of Future I-885 North Ramp from NC 147 North in Durham
Heading further toward the flyover ramps, the future North I-885 ramp can be seen to the right, only recently begun grading work.

Image showing construction of future I-885 ramps and northbound lanes from NC 147 North in Durham
A closer view of the Future I-885 ramp heading off from NC 147 lanes about to go under the future flyover ramp and bridge.

Image taken of traveling through future flyover ramp construction zone for East End Connector on NC 147 in Durham
A close view of the flyover and other ramp bridges being built over NC 147 North.

Image taken of East End Connector construction from NC 147 North at Future I-885 interchange
View after traveling under the future ramps of construction area heading towards the Briggs Avenue exit.

Image taken of construction on Future I-885 South ramp to NC 147 North in Durham
At the northern end of the construction zone, work has started on the right in building the Future I-885 South ramp to NC 147 North.

Next, the Middle Section-Angier Avenue:

Image taken of bridge construction for East End Connector over Angier Ave. in Durham
Heading north on Angier Avenue through the East End Connector work zone shows progress in building supports and grading the future I-885 lanes to the east to carry traffic over the road and the railroad tracks to the left.

Image taken of future bridge construction for East End Connector over Angier Ave. in Durham
A closer view of construction while traveling between the bridge pier construction and the elevated land for the I-885 roadway.

Finally, the Eastern Section - US 70 from East End Avenue to NC 98 (and back beyond):

Image of view from US 70 West prior to East End Ave at start of East End Connector project work zone
View from US 70 West at East End Avenue intersection with East End Connector work zone coming into view.

Image of view from East End Avenue on US 70 West in Durham of East End Connector work zone
View from US 70 west just passed the East End Avenue intersection, showing Current and Future US 70 lanes.

Image taken of new US 70 lanes being constructed as part of East End Connector project in Durham
Approaching the future ramp from US 70 to I-885 South on the right, where some paving has started heading up toward the ramp overpass.

Image taken looking at East End Connector related construction to the west of current US 70 in Durham
Looking to the west of US 70, a paved on-ramp from Future I-885 North and bridge construction can be spotted.

Image taken of East End Connector construction from US 70 West in Durham
Approaching the future site of the I-885 South off-ramp from US 70 West with a closer look at the paved lanes.

Image of view looking at East End Connector construction west of US 70 in Durham
Another look to the west of US 70 opposite the future I-885 South Off-Ramp showing grading and paving of future ramp to US 70 East.

Image of flyover ramp construction for I-885 over US 70 in Durham
Approaching the flyover ramp for I-885 South partially completed over current US 70 lanes with bridge being constructed to the left.

Image taken of ramp bridge being constructed west of US 70 as part of East End Connector project in Durham
Closer look of ramp bridge being constructed that will take traffic under the flyover ramp for US 70 West traffic heading onto I-885 South.

Image taken showing future I-885/US 70 lanes north of East End Connector interchange in Durham
A view to the right from US 70 West shows future I-885/US 70 lanes heading under completed bridge currently not connected to any street.

Image taken of East End Connector work zone north of future I-885/US 70 interchange in Durham
A closer look at the future I-885/US 70 lanes shows paving has not begun along graded roadway underneath the completed bridge.

Image taken of current signage at US 70 Business exit from US 70 West in East End Connector work zone in Durham
Signage for the pre-existing US 70 Business exit from US 70 West in the middle of the East End Connector work zone. When I-885 is completed US 70 Business traffic will use the revised NC 98 exit.

Image taken of US 70 West traveling through East End Connector work zone in Durham
US 70 lanes travel toward future I-885/US 70 lanes to travel under bridge prior to NC 98 exit.

Image taken of nearly completed bridge over Future I-885/US 70 lanes in East End Connector work zone in Durham
About to travel over new bridge over Future I-885/US 70 lanes, current US 70 traveling in future southbound lanes will work is still ongoing to excavate future northbound lanes.

Image taken of construction of future Interstate 885 North lanes prior to NC 98 in Durham
Future I-885 North lanes continue to the right paralleling US 70 headed toward the NC 98 Exit.

Image taken of bridge construction for future Interstate 885 North lanes over NC 98 in Durham
Prior to the NC 98 exit, work is continuing of the bridge that will take I-885 North/US 70 West over NC 98.

Image taken of NC 98 Exit gore sign on US 70 in Durham
A closer look at the NC 98 Exit Gore Sign. This will be Exit 7 when I-885 is completed, see sign plans below.

Image taken of Future Interstate 885 North bridge being constructed over NC 98 in Durham
View at the bottom of the US 70 West off-ramp to NC 98 showing the construction is proceeding that will take I-885 North traffic over the intersection.

Image of view on East US 70 of construction of new lanes for Future I-885 in Durham
Returning east on US 70 showing work is half finished in demolishing old railroad bridge in front of new one being completed over Future I-885 South lanes.

Image taken of view south over Future I-885/US 70 alignment north of East End Connector interchange in Durham
Looking South beyond the bridge, over approaching project work zone as US 70 curves to meet US 70 Business.

Image taken along US 70 East in Durham showing construction of lanes for Future Interstate 885 as part of East End Connector project
Further along approaching East End Avenue intersection with Future I-885/US 70 lanes to left and flyover ramp in distance.

Image taken of construction along US 70 East in Durham for East End Connector project
Approaching East End Avenue and future interchange area, another look at US 70 West to I-885 South flyover ramp construction.

Image of view along US 70 East south of Future East End Connector interchange showing construction progress
View on US 70 East beyond East End Avenue showing future US 70 lanes slowly making their way back to the alignment of the current lanes at the bottom of the hill.

Image taken of new US 70 lanes merging with existing alignment as part of East End Connector project in Durham
At the bottom of the hill and the southern end of the East End Connector project work zone, showing the last part of the new road alignment merging with the old prior to the Living Waters Community Church.

Earlier Photos - February 19, 2017

A few photos from Adam Prince showing the progress building the interchange with NC 147, the Durham Freeway approaching the interchange on NC 147 North:

Image showing view from NC 147 North of bridge prior to East End Connector construction area, from Adam Prince

Image of view from NC 147 approaching ramps being constructed for East End Connector interchange, from Adam Prince

Image of view on NC 147 approaching recently placed overhead beams for East End Connector ramp from  NC 147 South, from Adam Prince

Image of closeup view of future ramp under construction for NC 147/East End Connector Interchange, from Adam Prince


Previous - October 23, 2016

These photos, from LC, show progress on the eastern side of the project along US 70 West, traveling through the future I-885/US 70 interchange and further north to the existing freeway north of NC 98:

Image showing construction work for future US 70/East End Connector interchange in Durham, by LC

Image of construction at future US 70 - East End Connector interchange in Durham, by LC

Image from US 70 West prior to future interchange with East End Connector, under construction in Durham, from LC

Image of new interchange for future East End Connector under construction from US 70 West in Durham, from LC

Image approaching new bridge being constructed over US 70 as part of East End Connector project in Durham, from LC

Image approaching new ramp for East End Connector interchange with US 70 in Durham, by LC

Image of new flyover bridge being built over US 70 for East End Connector Project in Durham, by LC

Image of construction of future US 70 freeway for East End Connector project in Durham, by LC

Image of new US 70 freeway being constructed next to current roadway for East End Connector project, from LC

Image of future US 70 freeway under construction, part of East End Connector project in Durham, from LC

Image of future US 70 freeway under construction as part of East End Connector project in Durham, from LC

Image of future US 70 freeway under construction as part of East End Connector Project in Durham, from LC

Image of new bridge being built over future US 70 freeway, part of East End Connector project in Durham, by LC

Image of new bridge being built over US 70 as part of East End Connector project in Durham, by LC

Image of construction along US 70 West in Durham for East End Connector project, by LC

Image of construction for East End Connector project along US 70 West in Durham, from LC

Image of construction for East End Connector project on US 70 West at NC 98 exit, from LC

Image of construction for East End Connector on US 70 West beyond NC 98 exit, by LC

Here's a view of progress on the NC 147 side from the NCDOT Traffic Camera in the area, taken 10/15/16:
Image from NCDOT Traffic Camera of construction at future NC 147/East End Connector interchange

Previous Photos - April 17, 2016

These photos, from Adam Prince, show progress on the eastern side of the project along US 70 West traveling through the future I-885/US 70 interchange and then further north toward the current Business 70 off-ramp:

Image of construction along US 70 prior to future connection with the East End Connector

Image of future US 70/East End Connector area under construction, by Adam Prince

Image of US 70 construction near future interchange with East End Connector, from Adam Prince

Image of future railroad bridge being constructed in front of existing bridge over US 70 as part of East End Connector project, by Adam Prince




Previous Photos - November 14, 2015


These photos, from Adam Prince, show the progress on the eastern side of the project along US 70 toward the current Business 70 off-ramp last fall:

Image of clearing completed for future East End Connector/US 70 interchange in Durham, by Adam Prince

Image of clearing for future East End Connector interchange with US 70 in Durham, by Adam Prince

Image of construction for future I-885 along west US 70 in Durham, by Adam Prince






Image of progress widening US 70 for future East End Connector near Business 70 in Durham, by Adam Prince





Image of widening US 70 and clearing for new bridge near Business 70 in Durham, by Adam 
Prince

Previous Photos - October 30, 2015



These photos, courtesy of Adam Prince, show progress at the future I-885/NC 147 interchange, compare with previous photos regarding work in median and in constructing the future I-885 North Off-Ramp:

Image of progress in creating Future East End Connector interchange with Durham Freeway. Photo by Adam Prince




Image of progress constructing future I-885 off-ramp from Durham Freeway. Photo by Adam Prince

Image of construction equipment at future I-885/NC 147 interchange. Photo by Adam Prince
Image of support posts being constructed at future I-885/NC 147 interchange. Photo by Adam Prince

Previous Photos - June 22, 2015


The contractors have begun clearing the project area, starting first on the eastern side along US 70, and now along the western side on NC 147 starting in late May. Here are some photos of the clearing along the Durham Freeway on June 20:

Image of clearing along median of Durham Freeway for East End Connector Project. Photo by Adam Prince

Image of clearing along median of Durham Freeway for East End Connector Project. Photo by Adam Prince

Image of clearing along side of Durham Freeway for East End Connector Project. Photo by Adam Prince

And of the clearing and other construction along US 70  courtesy of Adam Prince from May 20:

Image of clearing along US 70 in Durham for East End Connector project, photo by Adam Prince

Image of clearing along US 70 in Durham for East End Connector project. Photo by Adam Prince

Image of broken rock being placed in East End Connector project area in Durham, photo by Adam Prince

Image of clearing along US 70 in Durham for East End Connector Project, photo by Adam Prince

Image of clearing at future site of East End Connector/US 70 interchange in Durham, photo by Adam Prince

Image of concrete barriers placed in East End Connector work zone on US 70 in Durham, photo by Adam Prince

Image of land clearing in vicinity of NC 98 exit on US 70 in Durham, photo by Adam Prince

Image of land clearing at future interchange between East End Connector and US 70 in Durham, photo by Adam Prince



Proposed Route of I-885



This future interstate highway would use an upgraded US 70 freeway East (South) from I-85 Exit 178 two miles to the planned East End Connector which would then run about a mile from US 70 to the Durham Freeway (NC 147). The route would then run south with NC 147 for about 5 more miles to I-40 Exit 270 along the Durham Freeway (planned to be widened to 6 lanes). The benefit of the I-885 proposal would be to provide a single numerical designation for drivers from I-85 to RTP and, since the East End Connector is funded as Durham's Urban Loop project, like other NC cities' urban loops, an interstate designation is appropriate. An even number is to be used since it would connect two interstates.

NCDOT officials have discussed an I-885 designation for about 10 years, but the sign plans were the first public notice of the interstate proposal. An NCDOT official says it may be necessary to upgrade parts of the Durham Freeway and US 70 (widen some of the existing shoulders outside of the Project area or request an exemption for a bridge that might not quite meet the specifications) to get federal approval. NCDOT doesn't plan to submit applications to either the FHWA or AASHTO until closer to the East End Connector project's completion.2 Here's a map of the corridor from the News & Observer:


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/08/4134356_road-worrier-durhams-east-end.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

adHere's a map of the proposed route, courtesy of the Raleigh News & Observer (2)
Map of proposed I-885 route in Durham, NC courtesy of Raleigh News & Observer








Project History




The East End Connector has been an official NCDOT project since the 1970s. Traffic planners in Durham had a connecting route from the Durham Freeway to US 70 in mind earlier in the 1960s when they mapped out the Durham Freeway and left space for an interchange with the Connector between Exits 8 and 11. Since there is no direct connection between the two major east-west highways in the City of Durham (Durham Freeway and US 70), motorists and truckers often use other streets to access the highway system. NCDOT estimated over the next 25 years, traffic volumes would increase significantly and without the Connector additional cut-through traffic would affect local streets and communities. The East End Connector, NCDOT argued, would provide a link among four major transportation routes (I-85, US 70, NC 147, and I-40) and facilitate better traffic flow.

The project has been shelved several times due to wrangling over competing Durham road priorities and debates over a state spending formula that always seemed to find other cities more deserving of big-project dollars.3 During the 1990s NCDOT, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of Durham and Durham County all identified the East End Connector project as a priority and pressed for funding. The project was made eligible for funding under the Urban Loop construction fund in the late 1990s after the preferred NCDOT Loop project, a northern bypass which would have cut through the Eno River State Park, was opposed by city officials. The neighborhoods to be affected, largely African-American, were wary of the project, remembering how the building of the Durham Freeway through the heart of downtown during the 1960s bulldozed much of the vibrant 'Black Wall Street' area (opposition which prevented the Freeway from being completed until the late 1990s). NCDOT's preferred alternative to construct the Connector, ended up with 22 residences and 33 businesses being condemned. The final hurdle, concerns of residents of the Hayestown neighborhood, located mostly between Angier Avenue and U.S. 70, was alleviated in 2010 when NCDOT made changes in project plans to provide an improved interchange at Carr Road to preserve the neighborhood’s access to U.S. 70.3


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/01/07/4456684_ncdot-awards-142-million-contract.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

East End Connector Project Construction Progress




Construction of the Connector started on February 26, 2015 after NCDOT awarded the $142 contract to Dragados USA of New York City on January 7. The project has a tentative completion date of January 2020 (the road could open as early as July 2019).4 Although the Durham Freeway and US 70 are just a mile apart, the project involves constructing 3.9 miles of roadway, including car and railroad bridges, and long loop ramps at both ends. The new freeway will have two lanes each way with room to add a third lane in the future.2 As of the end of March 2017, the project was 39.2% complete, though scheduled to be 44.6% complete.6


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/08/4134356_road-worrier-durhams-east-end.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Sign Plans


Here's a plan for one of the signs at the future intersection between I-885/US70 and West Business 70/NC 98:

This will be Exits 6 Northbound and 6A and 6B Southbound, the current Cheek Road exit would be renumbered Exit 7 (with the I-85 exit renumbered Exit 8), as seen in the plan below:

Here's the plan for the overhead signs at the future southbound split of I-885 and US 70:

Signage at the west end of the Connector is planned to appear as:

The Split of I-885 (to the Connector) and NC 147 northbound is to be Exit 4:

Ellis Road will become Exit 3, Alexander Drive Exit 2 and Cornwallis Road Exit 1. 

Here's signage on the Durham Freeway (NC 147) South approaching the Connector:

Finally, here's the proposed signage on the US 70 West:









Photos Along I-885's Route




From the Durham Freeway (2017):
Image of overhead exit signage at Ellis Road exit on NC 147 (Future I-885) South in Durham
Signage at the Ellis Road exit heading south after the East End Connector work zone.

Image of overhead exit signage at the Alexander Dr exit on NC 147 (Future I-885) South in Research Triangle Park
Signage at the Alexander Drive exit where NC 147 enters Research Triangle Park.

Image of overhead exit signage for I-40 exit on NC 147 (Future I-885) South in Research Triangle Park
Signage at the Cornwallis Road exit and the approaching I-40 exit prior to NC 147 South becoming a toll road.

 Image of overhead exits signs on the Durham Freeway North for Alexander Drive and Cornwallis 
Road, taken Oct. 2011

Approaching exit ramp to Cornwallis Road northbound. This section of the Freeway had been recently widened to 3 lanes in anticipation of the completion of the Triangle Parkway toll road, 10/14/2011.

Image of overhead exit signage approaching Alexander
Drive on the Durham Freeway, Oct. 2011
The 3 lane section ends just beyond the Alexander Drive interchange. NCDOT now has plans to widen the rest of the freeway to 3 lanes between here and the Connector and southbound from the Connector to Cornwallis Road. (10/14/2011)

Image taken of overhead exit signage on I-85/US 15 North at US 70 West (Future Interstate 885 South) interchange in Durham
Signage on I-85 North at Split with US 70 East, this will be the future northern end of I-885 when the East End Connector project is completed.

For more information visit the official NCDOT East End Connector project website.