North Carolina Highway 147

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North Carolina Highway 147 marker

North Carolina Highway 147
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length15.7 mi[1] (25.3 km)
Major junctions
South end NC 540 in Morrisville
North end I-85 in Durham
CountiesWake, Durham
Highway system
NC 146.svg NC 146NC 148.svg NC 148

North Carolina Highway 147 (NC 147) is a North Carolina state highway. The route is a 15.7-mile-long (25.3 km) freeway that connects the Research Triangle Park (RTP) to both Western Wake County and the city of Durham. The section north of Interstate 40 (I-40) is known as the Durham Freeway, while the section south of I-40 is part of the Triangle Expressway.

Route description[edit]

NC 147 winding around downtown Durham

The route's entire length is a limited access freeway, linking NC 540 in Morrisville with the RTP, Downtown Durham and Interstates 40 and 85. It is a fairly urbanized commuter-route and suffers from peak-traffic during conventional rush hours. Speed limits on the freeway range from 55 mph (89 km/h) to 70 mph (110 km/h).

From NC 540 to I-40, the highway is a toll road, part of the Triangle Expressway. Tolling on this stretch of NC 147 began on January 3, 2012.[2][3]

From I-40 to its northern terminus, the route is known as the Durham Freeway, and serves as the primary artery through the Research Triangle Park and Downtown Durham. The Durham Freeway portion was originally envisioned as an alignment of I-40, though the interstate was built to the south of the city center instead. The Durham Freeway received the NC 147 designation in 1986. From I-40 through the Research Triangle Park, to the Briggs Avenue exit the freeway goes primarily north-south, with wide medians and shoulders and interstate-grade entrance and exit ramps. Entering Downtown Durham past Briggs Avenue, the road turns towards a more southeast-northwest alignment, and narrows considerably, with narrow medians and shoulders, and short entrance and exit ramps, following a depressed road cut to the south of Downtown Durham, passing several major landmarks including the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (visible to the north of the roadway), the Durham Performing Arts Center, and the American Tobacco Historic District. Past Downtown Durham, the freeway passes through Duke University, forming the boundary between East Campus and Central Campus.

Past Duke University, the road reaches its northern terminus in a complex interchange with the U.S. 15-501 Freeway and I-85. Motorists must use U.S. 15-501 for access between I-85 south and NC 147 south, or between NC 147 north and I-85 north. At the actual northern terminus, traffic on NC 147 north merges with I-85 south, while I-85 north traffic can enter NC 147 south using exit 172.

Dedicated and memorial names[edit]

NC 147 features one dedicated stretch of freeway. The Buck Dean Expressway is the official name of NC 147 within the city limits of Durham that was approved on December 14, 1984.[4]


Northbound on Toll NC 147
First toll rates, from northbound NC 540 onto NC 147

Tolls along NC 147 are done by electronic toll collection (ETC) and are enforced by video cameras. Several gantries are located along the route and entrance/exit ramps, where they collect toll via the NC Quick Pass or other interoperable ETC systems. Those that do not participate in the ETC program will receive a bill in the mail and will have 30 days from date on bill before additional fees and civil penalties are applied.[5]


The Durham Freeway began with a 1962 bond referendum.[6] The first section of the road, completed in 1970 around downtown Durham, extended from Chapel Hill Street to Alston Avenue and resulted in the destruction of a portion of the Hayti neighborhood as part of urban renewal,[7] though a DOT engineer said the neighborhood likely would have been torn down anyway. The road was later extended west to Erwin Road and southward to where it meets I-40. In 1986, The freeway was designated as North Carolina Highway 147. The road's other names have included East-West Expressway and the I.L. "Buck" Dean Freeway.[6]

In 1979, planners said many of the city's roads needed widening, and the decision was made to extend the freeway to I-85. The first section in 1982 disrupted the Crest Street neighborhood, but the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) moved 181 houses instead of tearing them down, an action that resulted in a 1987 third-place Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) award for "historic preservation and cultural enhancement".[6] Eventually, the problems that caused the original I-40 extension to I-85 to be delayed were overcome, and NC 147 was extended through the city.[citation needed] Work began in 1993, and the eastbound lanes opened May 21, 1997.[8] The section connecting the road to I-85 opened July 31, 1998.[7]

On September 6, 2011, the south terminus at T.W. Alexander Drive (exit 4) was permanently closed to make way for NC 147's extension to NC 540 in Morrisville; this made I-40 the temporary southern terminus for three months. On December 8, 2011, the southern extension was opened. Dubbed the Triangle Parkway, the 3.4-mile (5.5 km) stretch of road is also part of the Triangle Expressway.[2][3][9][10]

Despite the spur to T.W. Alexander Drive being permanently closed, the pavement was never removed, and the abandoned section still sits just south of NC 147's interchange with I-40. (35°53′41″N 78°52′41″W / 35.894653°N 78.878140°W / 35.894653; -78.878140) The road markings are also visible.


There are one current and two future projects involving NC 147. The first is the East End Connector which began construction in March 2015.[11] This project, which will build a direct freeway connection designed to interstate standards between the Durham Freeway and north of the U.S. 70/N.C. 98, and which has been delayed many times, is now[when?] scheduled to be completed by June 2021.[12] The NCDOT 2020-2029 Final STIP released in September 2019 indicates a project that will widen 3.9 miles of NC 147 to 6 lanes from the East End Connector Project south to I-40 at a cost of $1.8 million is scheduled to start in 2024.[13] A proposed future project is the NC 147 extension to McCrimmon Parkway, in Morrisville, which is scheduled for reprioritization.[14][15]

Junction list[edit]

WakeMorrisvilleMcCrimmon ParkwayProposed extension (unfunded)[14][15]
NC 540 Toll to I-40 / I-540 / US 1 – Raleigh, Sanford
Southbound exit left; Triangle Expressway continues as NC 540 south
DurhamResearch Triangle Park2.54.02 / 3Davis Drive / Hopson RoadSigned exit 2 northbound, exit 3 southbound
4T.W. Alexander DrivePermanently closed as of September 6, 2011[9][10]
4.57.25 I-40 to NC 54 – Raleigh, Chapel HillTriangle Expressway northern terminus, Durham Freeway southern terminus. Signed as exit 5A (east) and 5B (west)
5.58.96Cornwallis Road  – Research Triangle Park
6.510.57T.W. Alexander Drive
7.512.18Ellis Road
Durham9 To I-85 / US 70 – Henderson, Greensboro, PetersburgEast End Connector (under construction)[11][16]
10.516.910Briggs Avenue  – Durham Technical Community College
11.318.211 NC 55 (Alston Avenue)
11.819.012AFayetteville Street  – North Carolina Central University
US 15 Bus. / US 501 Bus. (Mangum Street/Roxboro Street) – Downtown
To Durham Bulls Athletic Park
12.620.312CDuke StreetNo southbound exit;to North Carolina Museum of Life and Science
13.020.913Chapel Hill Street
To US 70 Bus. / Swift Avenue – Duke University East Campus
To North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and Northgate Mall
14.323.015AElba Street / Trent DriveNorthbound exit, southbound entrance; to Duke Medical Center
14.823.815BHillandale Road / Fulton StreetTo Veterans Affairs Medical Center
15.725.316 US 15 / US 501 to I-85 north – Chapel Hill, Duke University West CampusSigned as exits 16A (north) and 16B (south)
17.227.7 I-85 south – GreensboroNorthbound exit, southbound entrance
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Interstate 885[edit]

Interstate 885
LocationDurham, North Carolina

Interstate 885 (I-885) is the proposed designation traversing between I-40 and I-85/US 15 in Durham and the RTP area. Its first appearance was on August 19, 2014, when the October project letting was released, which included I-885 in the sign plans. NCDOT also listed in the documentation that fabrication of the signs cannot proceed until approval of the route is completed via FHWA; thus this routing is, for now, a proposal.[11][16]

If approved and designated, the Interstate would begin at the I-40/NC 147 interchange (exit 279) then go north running concurrently with NC 147 to the East End Connector, where it will switch to US 70. Continuing north concurrently with US 70, it will end at the I-85/US 15/US 70 interchange (exit 178). The existing exit numbers now on NC 147 and US 70 would be replaced by I-885.

No official request has been submitted to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) or FHWA as this route is currently proposed by NCDOT and is subject to change. The East End Connector is scheduled to be completed by June 2021[17]


  1. ^ a b Google (December 13, 2012). "North Carolina Highway 147" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Triangle Expressway". North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "State's First Modern Toll Road Opens Today". The News & Observer. Raleigh, NC. December 8, 2011. Archived from the original on January 9, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  4. ^ "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
  5. ^ "NC Quick Pass FAQs". North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Archived from the original on April 14, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Bloom, Jonathan (July 26, 1998). "30-Year, 12-Mile Project Completed". The Herald-Sun. Durham, NC. p. A1.
  7. ^ a b Bloom, Jonathan (August 1, 1998). "Durham Freeway's Last Leg Opens". The Herald-Sun. Durham, NC. p. A8.
  8. ^ "Durham Freeway's New Lanes to Ease Eastbound Travel". The Herald-Sun. Durham, NC. May 21, 1997. p. C1.
  9. ^ a b "Section of N.C. 147 in Durham to Close Sept. 6" (Press release). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on December 24, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Crosstown Traffic—RTP Commuters: The NC 147 Southern Spur Is Closed Today, for Good". The News & Observer. Raleigh, NC. September 6, 2011. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  11. ^ a b c "East End Connector". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  12. ^ "Work to Begin on East End Connector Project". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on May 31, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  13. ^ "2020-2029 State Transporatation Improvement Program (STIP)" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. September 5, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Staff. "Project #U-4763". Project Details. North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  15. ^ a b Staff. "Project #U-4763A". Project Details. North Carolina Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Signing Plan, Durham County, T.I.P.: U-0071" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 19, 2014.[dead link]
  17. ^ North Carolina Department of Transportation (December 9, 2019). "NCDOT East End Connector". North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 9, 2020.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata