Preferred Alternative Map
Detailed Study Alternatives Map
Project Fast Facts
  • Status: Projects Under Development
  • County: Wake, Johnston
  • Type of Project: New toll freeway
  • STIP Number: R-2721, R-2828, R-2829
  • Estimated Cost: Approximately $2.2 billion
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Public Involvement
Complete 540

Project Overview and Purpose

The proposed "Complete 540" project, also known as the Southeast Extension, would extend the Triangle Expressway from the N.C. 55 Bypass in Apex to U.S. 64/U.S. 264 (I-495) in Knightdale, completing the 540 Outer Loop around the greater Raleigh area.

Transportation, social and economic demands and mobility considerations are the basis for additional transportation infrastructure in southeastern Wake County. The "Complete 540" project would link the towns of Apex, Cary, Clayton, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Raleigh. In addition to connecting several towns and cities, the project is anticipated to ease congestion on area roadways, including I-440, I-40, N.C. 42, N.C. 55 and Ten Ten Road.

Complete 540 consists of three separate NCDOT projects (R-2721, R-2828 and R-2829) that are combined for the current planning and environmental study. Construction will likely be completed in phases that correspond to these three individual projects. Depending on available funding, each project will likely have different construction time lines.

Estimated Cost

The cost of the project is currently estimated to be approximately $2.2 billion based on the anticipated year of construction for each section of the overall project. This cost estimate will be refined as the project development process progresses. It is anticipated that the project would be funded in phases:

  • R-2721 – N.C. 55 Bypass to U.S. 401
  • R-2828 – U.S. 401 to I-40
  • R-2829 – I-40 to U.S. 64/264 (I-495)

Latest News and Updates

December 2017: The Federal Highway Administration approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement that was prepared for the Complete 540 project.

The Final EIS summarizes the field work and technical studies completed for the project’s Preferred Alternative. The document includes a discussion of the potential project impacts to the human and natural environment within the study area. (View the Final EIS.)

Project Schedule


Complete 540 Project Schedule*
Design public hearingFebruary 2018
Record of Decision publishedSummer 2018
Design-build contract awarded for U.S. 401 to I-40 (R-2828)Fall/winter 2018
Two design-build contracts awarded for R-2721
(N.C. 55 Bypass to U.S. 401)
Spring/summer 2019
Design-build contract awarded for I-40 to U.S. 64/264 (I-495)
(R-2829)
FY 2027
*Subject to change.

Background

April 2016 NCDOT selected Detailed Study Alternative 2 (orange-green-mint-green) as the preferred alternative for the project.
February 2016 NCDOT recommended Detailed Study Alternative 2 as the Preferred Alternative for the project.
December 2015 NCDOT held public meetings and a public hearing regarding the Draft EIS.
November 2015 The Complete 540 Draft Environmental Impact Statement was published and followed by a public comment period (Nov. 9 until Jan. 8).
2014 Various engineering, planning, and environmental studies were undertaken and completed for the Detailed Study Alternatives.
December 2013 NCDOT announced the alternatives that will be studied in detail in the DEIS. These alternatives are known as the Detailed Study Alternatives.
October 2013 NCDOT presented all alternatives to the public to review and comment on during a series of public meetings. Based on the comments received from the public, state and federal agencies, and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, NCDOT decided to study all of the recommended alternatives in detail. These alternatives are known as the Detailed Study Alternatives (DSAs) and are shown on the Detailed Study Alternatives Map (August 2014).
September 2013 NCDOT published Draft Alternatives Development and Analysis Report, including list of recommended Detailed Study Alternatives.
July 2013 NCDOT resumed all environmental study activities for the project.
June 2013 North Carolina General Assembly enacted House Bill 10 (Session Law 2013-94) and House Bill 817 (Session Law 2013-183) to remove previous restrictions on studying the Red Corridor. These bills were signed into law, allowing NCDOT to resume the environmental study.
December 2012 FHWA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a letter requiring full evaluation of the Red Corridor. This evaluation is required for the project to remain eligible for federal funds and to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The project could not be constructed without meeting these requirements.
March 2011 North Carolina Session Law 2011-7 restricted NCDOT’s ability to evaluate the Red Corridor.
Late 2009 Environmental study began.
1996-1997 In accordance with the NC Transportation Corridor Official Map Act, NCDOT established a protected corridor for the portion of 540 between N.C. 55 Bypass in Apex and I-40 near the Johnston/Wake County line. A protected corridor preserves the location of a new road from encroaching development.

Contact Information

Project Hotline: (800) 554-7849
Email: complete540@ncdot.gov
Mailing Address:
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1548

Resources for Local Property Owners

Although the N.C. Department of Transportation works to minimize the number of homes and businesses displaced by a road project, it is inevitable, in many cases, that a certain amount of private property is needed. The following information explains right of way acquisition and answers questions about the process.