Interstate 40 is a major east-west Interstate highway running through North Carolina. Nationally, it runs from Barstow, California to Wilmington, North Carolina. Locally, it is considered the Triangle's "main street", connecting the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the towns of Cary and Chapel Hill to Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the coastal portion of North Carolina, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is signed as the Dan K. Moore Freeway between Durham and Cary and as the Tom Bradshaw Freeway within the Raleigh city limits.

Route Description

I-40 enters the Triangle from the northwest, splitting from I-85 near Hillsborough. The four-lane Interstate features a wide median and is surrounded by a wooded area. As it crosses the border between Orange and Durham Counties, the highway takes on an east-west route, widens to six lanes, and the median is reduced to a jersey barrier. I-40 has interchanges with several major roads leading into Durham and Chapel Hill, including US 15/501, NC 54, and I-885.

After bypassing Durham to the south, I-40 travels due southeast towards Raleigh-Durham International Airport, expanding its number of lanes to eight or ten. Now entering Wake County, an interchange with I-540 connects I-40 to the northern suburbs of Raleigh, with the next two interchanges, Airport Boulevard and Aviation Parkway, serving the airport. The highway straddles Raleigh and Cary while passing Umstead State Park, then enters Raleigh at an interchange with Wade Avenue.

I-40 turns to the south, where it once again sports a wide median and has reduced to six lanes. The Interstate connects to Chapel Hill Road and Cary Towne Boulevard before turning to the east and interchanging with I-440. I-40 expands to eight lanes as it bypasses Raleigh's city center to the south, serving as the southern arc of the Raleigh Beltline. 40 then forks to the south at an second interchange with I-440, including I-87's southern terminus, leaves Raleigh after an interchange with Jones Sausage Road and has two interchanges that serve the town of Garner, before leaving Wake County after an interchange with the US 70 Clayton Bypass.




Durham Freeway Routing

Wade Avenue

Raleigh Beltline

Further Improvements

Project Fortify

In 2013, NCDOT began work on a the "Fortify Raleigh," which rehabilitated the crumbling pavement along the southern 11.5 miles of the Raleigh Beltline. The project was divided into two phases, the first of which, from I-40 exit 301 to I-440 exit 14, was completed in 2015, while the second, between I-40 exits 301 and 293 was completed in 2018. In addition to repairing the road surface, construction crews improved several overpasses, added auxiliary lanes, and erected streetlights in an attempt to improve safety and ease congestion.

Exit List

Exit Number Intersecting Street Name Destination(s) City
Orange County
259 I-85 North Durham Hillsborough
261 Old NC 86 Hillsborough
263 New Hope Church Road  
266 NC 86 Chapel Hill, Hillsborough
Durham County
270 US 15/501 Chapel Hill, Durham Durham
273 NC 54 Chapel Hill, Durham
274 NC 751 Jordan Lake
276 Fayetteville Road Southpoint, North Carolina Central University 
278 NC 55 Apex
279A NC 885 South  Morrisville
279B I-885 North Downtown Durham
280 Davis Drive  
281 Miami Boulevard  
282 Page Road  
283 I-540/NC 540 North Raleigh   
Wake County
284 Airport Boulevard Raleigh-Durham International Airport Morrisville
285 Aviation Parkway Morrisville, Raleigh-Durham International
287 Harrison Avenue Cary Cary
289 Wade Avenue North Carolina State Fair, PNC Arena, Carter-Finley
290 NC 54 (Chapel Hill Road) Cary, Chapel Hill, NCSU Raleigh
291 Cary Towne Boulevard Cary
293A-B US 1/US 64 West/I-440 Cary, Sanford, Raleigh, Asheboro
295 Gorman Street NCSU
297 Lake Wheeler Road Raleigh, Garner
298A US 70 East/US 401 South/NC 50 South (S Saunders Street) Garner
298B US 70 West/US 401 North/NC 50 North (S Saunders Street) Downtown Raleigh
299 Hammond Road Garner, Downtown Raleigh
300 Rock Quarry Road Southeast Raleigh
301 I-440/US 64 East/I-87 Raleigh, Wilson, Rocky Mount
303 Jones Sausage Road Garner
306 US 70 West/Business US 70 East Garner, Raleigh, Clayton Garner
309 US 70 East/Future I-42 (Clayton Bypass) Clayton, Smithfield, Goldsboro


Widening from Southeast Raleigh to Clayton

In late 2018, work has begun on widening a twelve-mile stretch of I-40 between I-440 in Raleigh and NC 42 near Clayton in Wake and Johnston Counties. Intended to alleviate traffic congestion caused by the rapid growth of Clayton and the US 70 Clayton Bypass, the project adds two lanes in both directions and redesigns the interchange with NC 42 into a diverging diamond interchange, one of several planned for the Triangle. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Interchange Improvements at RDU

Projects to improve two interchanges near Raleigh-Durham International Airport began in 2018 at Aviation Parkway. The improvements include adding a loop ramp from I-40 westbound to Aviation Parkway and replacing the bridge carrying the parkway across I-40. The improvements at Airport Boulevard will redesign thexisting interchange into a diverging diamond interchange. The project will also add auxiliary lanes between Aviation Parkway and I-540.

Crossroads Interchange and Southwest Raleigh Widening

In May 2019, the North Carolina Department of Transportation held a public meeting regarding current and upcoming road improvement projects in Raleigh and surrounding municipalities. One of the projects will upgrade the interchange between I-40, I-440, US 1, and US 64 in southwest Raleigh and the Walnut Street interchangnear the Crossroads shopping center in Cary. The $151 million project resolves to create  a less confusing and dangerous freeway and separate Interstate traffic from local mall traffic. Construction will begin in 2022.

Also in 2022, NCDOT will widen a four-mile stretch of I-40 from I-440, US 1, and US 64 to Lake Wheeler Road with the addition of one lane in both directions. The project is expected to cost $27 million.

Auxiliary Routes

See Also

  • US 70, an alternative to I-40