North Carolina Highway 54

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NC Highway 54 marker

NC Highway 54
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length: 55 mi (89 km)
Existed: 1929[1] – present
Major junctions
West end: US 70 / NC 62 in Graham
  NC 100 / NC 49 in Burlington
NC 87 in Graham
I‑85 / I‑40 in Graham
US 15 / US 501 in Chapel Hill
I‑40 in Chapel Hill
NC 751 in Durham
NC 55 in Durham
NC 540 in Morrisville
I‑40 near Raleigh
East end: I‑440 / US 1 in Raleigh
Counties: Wake, Durham, Orange, Alamance
Highway system
NC 53 NC 55

NC 54 is a North Carolina state highway and a semi-urban traffic artery connecting Raleigh to its western suburbs, and extending outward to Burlington.

Route description[edit]

54 east begins in western Burlington at the intersection of US 70/NC 62/Church Street and South O'Neal Street. 54 east runs on O'neal Street for less than 500 yards before turning left on Chapel Hill Road.

54 follows Chapel Hill Road to the intersection of NC 49/100/Maple Avenue in downtown Graham. 54 joins 49 north on Harden Street through downtown. 54/49 continues eastward and intersects with NC 87, marking a stretch of 49 north, 54 east and 87 south all along Harden Street (which actually runs east-west). 87 turns off at Main Street in downtown Graham and 49 exits at Elm Street. It's at this point that 54 begins its turn southeast and crosses Interstates 40/85 (exit 148). 54 remains on Harden Street until it crosses the Haw River, and is known from that point as NC 54.

54 heads southeast to Carrboro where it becomes the Fordham Blvd bypass, a divided highway that runs through the south side of Carrboro and Chapel Hill. At Pittsboro Road US 15/501 joins 54/Fordham Blvd and the highway begins to turn northbound to head toward Durham. 54 exits on Raleigh Road and then Nelson-Chapel Hill Highway, a divided major highway connecting Fordham Blvd and Interstate 40. 54 hits I-40 at exit 273 and continues east, crossing NC 751 and heading into Durham.

54 enters the Research Triangle Park and intersects with NC 55 before crossing over the Durham Freeway (NC 147) and intersecting with South Miami Blvd, where 54 turns right and starts to head toward Morrisville. When 54 enters Wake County it is once again on Chapel Hill Road and crosses NC 540 at exit 69 in Morrisville.

54 travels through Morrisville and heads into Cary, where it crosses the Cary Parkway and then exits onto the northern portion of the Maynard Road loop around Cary. It then turns left back onto Chapel Hill Road in the eastern portion of Cary and hits I-40 for the last time at exit 290 in Cary. 54 continues toward Raleigh and intersects with Hillsborough Street before ending at exit 4 of the Cliff Benson Beltline, which carries Interstate 440 and US 1. NC 54's eastern terminus is at US 1/I-440, at the Hillsborough Street (exit 3) in western Raleigh, North Carolina. This used to be the junction for US 64 in the 1990s before that highway was rerouted along I-40. NC 54 westbound ends at US 70/NC 62 in Burlington, North Carolina.

The route is a fairly major road in the Triangle area, and runs over several local important streets:

The route also runs through the Piedmont Triad region, but it is not usually considered a major road there. A notable fact is that NC 54 crosses I-40 four times, more than most nearby routes.


The current NC 54 was the first paved road in North Carolina, and was once designated as US 70.[2]

The original routing (1929) of NC 54 mostly followed today's route, but was shorter. It originally ran from Chapel Hill to Nelson and was extended west to Graham in the 1930s. It was extended east to Raleigh along the former U.S. Route 70A when it was decommissioned in the 1950s.

U.S. 1 occupied the section of Hillsborough Street from the I-440 beltline to downtown Raleigh in the 1950s and 1960s and U.S. Route 1 Business occupied it in the 1980s. A project is currently underway to construct traffic circles along this section of Hillsborough Street inside the beltline in an effort to persuade travelers to take nearby parallel route Western Boulevard in and out of downtown Raleigh.

In 1997, NC 54 through central Cary was rerouted from Chapel Hill Road to the northern section of Maynard Road to avoid the downtown area. Maynard Road is a loop road that encircles downtown Cary.

Major intersections[edit]

County Location mi km Destinations Notes
Alamance Burlington 0.0 0.0 US 70 / NC 62 (Church Street) – Greensboro, Archdale, Mebane, Yanceyville Western terminus
2.2 3.5 NC 49 south / NC 100 west (Maple Avenue) to I‑40 / I‑85 – Liberty, Whitsett, Greensboro, Hillsborough
Graham 3.2 5.1 NC 87 north (Elm Street) – Reidsville West end of concurrency with NC 87
3.8 6.1 NC 87 south (Main Street) – Pittsboro East end of concurrency with NC 87
4.1 6.6 NC 49 north (Elm Street) – Haw River East end of concurrency with NC 49
4.8 7.7 I‑40 / I‑85 – Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Durham, Raleigh Diamond interchange; Exit 148
Swepsonville 8.2 13.2 NC 119 north – Mebane Southern terminus of NC 119
Orange Chapel Hill 28.6 46.0 US 15 south / US 501 south / NC 86 north (Columbia Street) – Fearrington, Hillsborough West end of concurrency with US 15/501; Southern terminus of NC 86; Diamond interchange
30.5 49.1 US 15 north / US 501 north (Fordham Boulevard) – Durham East end of concurrency with US 15/501; Cloverleaf interchange
Durham Durham 33.4 53.8 I‑40 (John Motley Morehead III Freeway) – Mebane, Raleigh Diamond interchange; Exit 273
34.7 55.8 NC 751 (Hope Valley Road) – Apex
36.4 58.6 Fayetteville Road to I‑40 Single-point urban interchange; Exit 276
Research Triangle Park 38.7 62.3 NC 55 (Apex Highway) – Cary, Apex
39.9 64.2 NC 147 – Morrisville
Wake Morrisville 43.1 69.4 NC 540 to I‑540 – Durham Partial cloverleaf interchange
Cary 51.9 83.5 I‑40 (Tom Bradshaw Freeway) – Durham, Benson Diamond and partial cloverleaf interchange; Exit 290
Raleigh 55.0 88.5 I‑440 / US 1 to I‑40 – Moncure, Sanford, Wake Forest, Henderson Eastern terminus; Partial cloverleaf interchange
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Bannered routes[edit]

Carrboro–Chapel Hill alternate route[edit]

NC Highway 54A
Location: CarrboroChapel Hill, NC
Length: 4.4 mi[3] (7.1 km)
Existed: 1957–1960

North Carolina Highway 54 Alternate (NC 54A) was a renumbering of NC 54 through Carrboro (via Main Street) and Chapel Hill (via Franklin Street, Columbia Street, South Road and Raleigh Road). In 1960, it was renumbered as NC 54 Business.

Carrboro–Chapel Hill business loop[edit]

NC Highway 54 Business
Location: CarrboroChapel Hill, NC
Length: 4.4 mi[3] (7.1 km)
Existed: 1960–1987

North Carolina Highway 54 Business (NC 54 Bus) was a renumbering of NC 54A through Carrboro (via Main Street) and Chapel Hill (via Franklin Street, Columbia Street, South Road and Raleigh Road). By 1987 it was decommissioned, downgraded to secondary roads.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ N.C. 54
  2. ^ Richardson, Ted (2010-09-11). "Most Wake County roads are paved". News & Observer. Retrieved 2010-09-12. 
  3. ^ a b Google (June 6, 2014). "NC 54 Alt & Bus - Carrboro–Chapel Hill, North Carolina" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]