Western Wake Freeway

Raleigh, North Carolina

As lead designer for Raleigh-Durham Roadbuilders, a joint venture between Archer Western Contractors and Granite Construction, Michael Baker led a multi-discipline design team and provided project management, bridge and roadway design and bridge hydrology services for Western Wake Freeway, a new-location roadway from Interstate 40 to NC 55 in Wake County.

The project is a nearly 13-mile, six-lane, median-divided, controlled-access toll road that provides a high-speed freeway to accommodate increasing traffic demand in Western Wake County. The project includes six interchanges and 34 bridges built at 24 different sites over 13 miles. Of these, nine are mainline bridges with the remaining accommodating secondary roads and ramps. Additional project elements include 15 box culverts, two miles of sound barrier walls, more than 500,000-square-feet of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls, signals, intelligent transportation system (ITS) infrastructure, utility relocations, signing, lighting, Section 401/404 permitting and maintenance of traffic.

This greenfield facility is the western leg of the Raleigh Outer Loop and the first project in the U.S. designed and built to use an all-electronic toll collection system. There are no toll booths along the route, which helps prevent bottlenecks and improves traffic flow. Customers may use cash, check or credit card to purchase an electronic transponder that automatically will charge for road use. For those without a transponder, overhead gantries with high-speed camera imaging systems capture license plate information to bill drivers.

This project was unique as it was the first modern toll road in the state and the largest contract ever to date awarded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to date. It’s estimated that the new roadway has saved commuters up to 20 minutes per trip.

Challenges & Solutions

“In light of consistent transportation funding challenges, this project served as a catalyst for the use of tolling to fund future project development and construction. The sustained pace of growth and development in the Triangle Region has intensified the need for better, more modern transportation infrastructure. This new portion of Western Wake Freeway offers commuters an alternative to quickly and efficiently travel within the region.”

Dwain H.
Project Manager

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