Interstate 87 is a north-south Interstate highway that currently connects the city of Raleigh to the town of Wendell. It is part of a long-term plan to connect the city of Raleigh to the Hampton Roads area of Norfolk, Virginia, two of the largest metropolitan areas lacking a direct Interstate connection. The entire roadway runs concurrently with US 64.
I-87 begins at I-40's exit 301, following I-440 and US 64 around southeast Raleigh. After two miles, I-87/US 64 leave the I-440 beltline at exit 14 and join US 264 along the Knightdale Bypass freeway due southeast. The freeway has interchanges with New Hope and Hodges Roads on either side of the Neuse River before turning to the west as it approaches its interchange with the eastern terminus of I-540. Continuing northeast, I-87/US 64/US 264 has interchanges with Smithfield Road and Wendell Falls Parkway, turning to the north as I-87 reaches its current northern terminus with US 64 Business and Rolesville Road in Wendell.
In December of 2013, the NCDOT designated a section of the US 64 freeway as I-495 between Interstates 440 and 540. The I-495 designation was originally planned to be extended east along US 64 to end at I-95 in Rocky Mount, with the section east of 540 being designated as Future I-495. Plans were later considered for extending the Interstate to Norfolk, Virginia via US 64 and US 17. Several route numbers were considered, including I-44, I-50, I-89, and I-56.
Following the passage of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act in December 2015, NCDOT originally proposed I-89 as the final designation of the Raleigh to Norfolk Interstate corridor, despite the fact that I-89 already exists in Vermont and New Hampshire. However, on May 26, 2016, AASHTO instead approved the corridor as I-87.
Completely separate from an already existing segment of I-87 that runs between New York City and the Canadian border, the 87 designation was chosen due to its historic significance to both North Carolina and Virginia; the lost colony of Roanoke was founded in 1587, James Maddison's Virginia plan was chosen as the basis for the US Constitution in 1787, and North Carolina State University was founded in 1887. On September 7, 2017, NCDOT decommissioned I-495, replacing all Future I-495 signs with Future I-87 signs. The US 64 exit numbers and mile markers were then replaced with exit numbers based on I-87 mileage in July 2019; the segement that runs concurrent with I-440 retains the I-440 mile markers and exit numbers.
|Original Exit Number||New Exit Number||Intersecting Street||Destination(s)|
|16||16||US 64 West/I-40||Benson, Wilmington, Asheboro, Durham|
|14||14||I-440 West/US 64 East/Begin US 264||Wilson, Rocky Mount, Wake Forest|
|US 64/US 264 Concurrency|
|419||3||End US 264/I-440 East/US 64 West||Asheboro, Cary|
|420||4||New Hope Road|
|423||7||I-540 West||Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest, RDU|
|427||11||Wendell Falls Parkway|
|429||13||Business US 64/Knightdale Boulevard||Knightdale|
|End I-87, Roadway continues as US 64/264|
The remainder of the US 64 corridor from Wendell to Williamston is designated as Future I-87. The section that follows the Knightdale Bypass, completed in 2005, complies with Interstate standards, allowing the designation of the first fourteen miles of I-87. The rest of the freeway, built in sections as late as 1975, does not meet Interstate standards, needing wider shoulders, improved median barriers, and in the case of a segment in Nashville, wider travel lanes. Additionally, US 17 from Williamston to Norfolk is not built as a freeway and would require constructing new roads parallel to existing US 17 as well as upgrading US 17 itself. Many of these improvements are listed in NCDOT's State Transportation Improvement Program. The first of which will widen the US 64 freeway to six lanes between Wendell Boulevard in Wendell and US 264 north of Zebulon. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2028.