Skip to main content

NC 540 open for business

NC 540 opened to traffic around 4:00 this afternoon -- at least, to most traffic. Access from both directions of I-40, as well as the continuation of the westbound I-540 lanes, was still blocked until about 5:30 as crews were painting lines and finishing up the last-minute preparations, so technically speaking the westbound section from I-40 to NC 54 was the last to open. However, all the ramps at the other three interchanges were open, so there was a bit of traffic already using the roadway before the last section was opened.

Here are some pictures (click for bigger images):


This is on the ramp to NC 540 from Davis Drive, just before a sharp curve to the right to intersect NC 540.


Along westbound NC 54 at the westbound onramp to NC 540. (No, 540 doesn't run to Apex yet, but it's signed that way because of the end at NC 55.)


Once on westbound 540 from NC 54, a long hill descends toward the Davis Drive interchange.


Southbound on the Davis Drive onramp where it splits to eastbound and westbound ramps to 540. The 540 shields are quite a bit brighter than the other two shields because of the last-minute numbering change, and if you look very closely in person (it's impossible to make this out in the picture) you can see the outline of Interstate shields underneath the NC 540 shields.


Coming westbound on 540 from Davis Drive, the two right lanes both become exit only lanes to NC 55, and the three left lanes end; the farthest left lane has already ended by the time the Davis Drive ramp merges onto the freeway.


The NC 55 exit is split into two separate ramps, and if you look closely you can see the overlaid exit numbers that replaced the incorrect mileage. The overlays are very evident in person, especially on the exit signage at the gore points.


The new section has quite a few "bridges over nothing". This one will cross a future extension of Louis Stephens Drive, planned to be a reliever route to RTP running parallel to Davis Drive and NC 55. While parts of this road exist already, the section that will run under this bridge is nowhere near completion (as evidenced by the steep hill behind the bridge).


The Davis Drive interchange is designed for a future extension in both directions, and includes bridges over nothing to the south of NC 540. The white line through the middle of the picture is NC 540, and beyond that there are ramps on two levels; the lower level is the onramp to westbound 540, and the upper level is the offramp from westbound 540 to Davis Drive.


Taken from the westbound offramp, you can see the already-graded section south of NC 540 that the bridges over nothing cross over. This will not be part of the Triangle Expressway, the to-be-tolled section that will hook up with the Durham Freeway north of this interchange, but will be an extension south to Morrisville at the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Town Hall Drive. Stub ramp ends exist all over this interchange to accommodate this southern extension.


Northbound on the Davis Drive offramp, it looks like this will be a C/D roadway once the Triangle Expressway is completed as the right of way for the future expressway is to the left of the picture. As it is now, this three-lane ramp makes a sharp curve to the left to meet Davis Drive at Kit Creek Road.


This isn't related to 540, but it's the new railroad bridge that crosses NC 54 in RTP. The old bridge was very low -- 13'4" -- and was frequently struck by overheight trucks. The replacement bridge, shown here, opened late last year. The writing on the bridge says "North Carolina Railroad Company", the owner of the bridge and the railroad.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Small Towns of Virginia Series - Charlotte Court House

This sleepy little rural town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked.  Located miles from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court House in many ways is easily forgotten.  However, this tiny town of slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.

In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.  The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and the first in public for Randolph.  Randolph would go on to serve in the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia.  Henry, who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte County at the time of the debate, died three months later.

Charlotte Court House is not the original name of the town.  Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph debate), Smithfield, and finally…

History of the Wawona Road (Yosemite National Park)

Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built.  Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.






Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first.  The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley.  A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.

The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel.  The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…

Old California State Route 41 on Road 425B

While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County.  Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek.  Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst.   CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.

1935 Madera County Highway Map

After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41.  I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B.   Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.






Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles.  T…