A new, $1 billion interstate highway planned to connect Norfolk and Raleigh will open a high-speed, unobstructed route between a Virginia port and the Research Triangle region of North Carolina.
The road, to be called Interstate 87, could take as long as two decades to complete. It has the support of elected officials, business leaders and agencies in Virginia and North Carolina, including both highway departments, chambers of commerce and all four senators.
Last year, Congress authorized the future interstate, which will be about 213 miles long. In May, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved the I-87 designation.
In North Carolina, the highway will follow U.S. 64 east from Raleigh to Williamston, continue on U.S. 17 near Elizabeth City and up into Virginia. There, it will join Interstates 64 and 464 to Norfolk and the port facilities.
The route will open a needed avenue for freight going to the southwest, according to Cathie Vick, chief public affairs officer for the Port of Virginia.
The highway is not funded and has no timeline for construction. In addition, no study has been done on the interstate’s economic effects.
The entire project, which will be built in sections, is estimated to cost $1 billion. The federal government pays 90 percent of interstate construction, according to the Federal Highway Administration.