Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
As lead designer for Raleigh-Durham Roadbuilders, a joint venture between Archer Western Contractors and Granite Construction, Michael Baker International led a multi-discipline design team and provided project management, bridge and roadway design, and bridge hydrology for Western Wake Freeway, a new-location roadway from NC 55 at S.R. 1172 (Old Smithfield Road) to NC 55 near S.R. 1630 (Alston Avenue) in Wake County. This highway project is the largest ever undertaken in the state of North Carolina.
The project is a 12.5 mile, six-lane divided, controlled-access toll road, opened to traffic in 2012, that is expected to save customers up to 20 minutes per full trip. This greenfield facility is the western leg of the Raleigh Outer Loop and was to be the first project in the U.S. designed and built to utilize an all-electronic toll collection system, the toll road includes no toll booths and no places to stop to pay tolls. 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, and drivers are billed. The project includes six interchanges, 32 bridge structures, 15 box culverts, two miles of sound 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.