First cars will drive on East End Connector in Durham next week ::

— The long-awaited East End Connector, soon to be known as I-885, is finally set to open in Durham. The first cars will drive down it a week from today.

Connecting U.S. 70 to the Durham Freeway, it’ll provide another route from I-40 to I-85, bypassing downtown.

WRAL News got a sneak peek at the road before it opens to everyone.

Construction started in 2015. It was supposed to open in 2020. After delays and more delays, it’s finally almost ready.

Bridge work to finish East End Connector

The goal: Making life easier for Durham drivers.

“Depending on where you’re at, some people might save 10 minutes time,” says Liam Shannon, engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Shannon says it should make it easier to get from I-40 to I-85, which will especially benefit drivers traveling from North Durham to RTP and Raleigh.

The hope is that it will ease congestion downtown, too.

“In the future you will not have to go through downtown Durham to get from north Durham to NC-147,” says Shannon.

The project took a couple years longer than expected, for a few reasons.

“Some of them were utility related. This is kind of in an old section of Durham and the connector cuts across a lot of old neighborhoods that had a lot of old utilities. One of the largest factors was the railroad corridor,” says Shannon.

Now all that’s needed is a bit of paint and a few more signs – and it’s good to go.

The NC DOT has a ribbon cutting ceremony planned for June 30. Afterwards, they expect cars can start using the road as early as that afternoon.

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