U.S. Route 401 is a major US Highway running through Wake County, serving as a primary route between Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Louisburg.
US 401 enters Wake County following a two-lane road traveling due north. The roadway follows NC 42 and NC 55 along Main Street in the town of Fuquay-Varina, widening to four lanes halfway through the town. US 401 then separates from NC 42/55 and continues northeast into the town of Garner. At an intersection with Lake Wheeler Road, US 401 changes names to Fayetteville Road and continues through Garner as an arterial thoroughfare. 401 merges onto US 70/NC 50 as it leaves Garner and continues north into the city of Raleigh. The six-lane US 70/401/NC 50 follows about 3/4 of a mile of South Wilmington Street, followed by about 2.7 miles of South Saunders Street through the south side of the city, connecting to residential and commercial development, both separated by I-40/US 64. After an interchange with Western and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards, US 70/401/NC 50 follow southbound Dawson and northbound McDowell streets through Downtown Raleigh, then merge back together, forming Capital Boulevard. US 70 and NC 50 leave Capital Boulevard to follow Wade Avenue onto Glenwood Avenue, while US 401 continues northeast. At the I-440 interchange, US 401 is joined by US 1 traveling due northeast. After 2.25 miles, US 401 splits from US 1 and Capital Boulevard and continues northeast along six-lane Louisburg Road. US 401 leaves Raleigh as a four-lane divided highway and follows a superstreet alignment bypassing the town of Rolesville. At NC 96, US 401 returns to two lanes, then leaves Wake County.
In mid-2018, NCDOT held a public meeting regarding plans to improve a stretch of US 401 in Garner between Old Stage Road and the US 70/NC 50 split near Raleigh. The plans propose converting this stretch of roadway into a superstreet to reduce the number of crashes, as well as expanding the number of lanes from four to six.
November 2018 saw the groundbreaking ceremony of a widened stretch of US 401 from NC 96 north of Rolesville to NC 56 in Louisburg. The project will widen the last remaining stretch of the Raleigh to Louisburg section of US 401 from two lanes to four and strengthen the economy of Louisburg. The first phase of construction will end in 2022, while the second phase will begin in 2024.
Plans are being considered for making improvements to US 401 at its intersection with Ligon Mill and Mitchell Mill Roads in Raleigh. Slated to begin construction in 2020, the intersection has two alternatives that are currently being evaluated. The first builds ramps connecting northbound US 401 to Mitchell Mill Road and Ligon Mill Road to southbound US 401, while the second realigns Ligon Mill north of its current southern terminus and upgrades Mitchell Mill to have a continuous flow intersection with US 401.