The future I-87 corridor traverses rural eastern North Carolina, connecting Raleigh, NC at its southern terminus and the Hampton Roads-Norfolk region in Virginia at its northern terminus. When fully completed, this corridor will serve as an interstate connection between the Port of Virginia and I-95. This corridor is critical to connecting northeastern North Carolina industries and farms to their best export option through the Port of Virginia and represents concerted cooperation across state lines to realize national economic development opportunities. Improvements along the future I-87 corridor will also capitalize on the $270M investments in the Carolina Connector Intermodal Rail Terminal (CCX), removing barriers along the transportation route between CCX, the I-95 corridor, and the Port of Virginia. It is projected that activity at CCX will reduce shipping costs by 40% and increase the efficiency of the movement of goods, producing national economic trade benefits. Project investments in this corridor will improve the road to interstate standards from Zebulon to Williamston, make upgrades to several interchanges, and widen the road to six lanes in the vicinity of Zebulon. The Project will make numerous spot improvements to mitigate road flooding in the Princeville area. Collectively, these improvements will offer rural residents a safer and faster travel option to access the Raleigh job market.
Future I-87 and the U.S. 64 extension out to the coast are important evacuation routes. The Project will install fiber optic cable along the entire length of the future I-87 corridor, as well as the extension of U.S. 64 from Williamston to Whalebone. This investment will permit NCDOT to implement state-of-the-art wind and flood monitoring, manage the corridor in a coordinated manner with I-95 and U.S. 70 (future I-42) where fiber is already being installed, prepare for the future implementation of connected and autonomous vehicles, enhance broadband capability in this underserved rural area, and offer the potential for revenue opportunities to NCDOT through the lease of excess fiber capacity. The installation of fiber will also represent a sound investment due to the projected revenue generation the state will see from providing a fiber/broadband “backbone” for additional incremental private investment in network expansion to rural areas.