DURHAM (WTVD) -- Starting Wednesday, part of a major Durham roadway will be off limits to drivers.
Miami Boulevard between NC 98 and US 70 will be closed as part of the East End Connector project - which will link Highway 70 to Highway 147 in Durham.
The closure is expected to last six weeks. There are detour signs in place to help drivers.
Officials said it is needed so crews can perform utility work along the existing roadway.
The detour will re-route drivers using N.C. 98 and U.S. 70. Local traffic can travel along Miami Boulevard on either side of the railroad crossing in that area.
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials, along with City of Durham and Durham County leaders broke ground on the project in April - more than 55 years after the idea was first proposed.
"This will be a route especially for the persons in northern Durham, that want to get to the Raleigh Durham airport, that even want to get into downtown Durham without necessarily having to go the routes that they take now," said Durham Mayor Bill Bell at the time.
First introduced back in 1959, the $142 million, 3.9-mile project will mean a direct connection between the Durham Freeway to U.S. 70 just north of the N.C. 98 intersection - creating a link between I-85 and I-40, the Triangle Expressway, and U.S. 1 in southern Wake County.
Click here for a map from the NCDOT (.pdf)
While some might question bringing even more traffic on to Hwy 147 - which often sees long traffic delays during rush-hour times - the DOT says the project will ease congestion on the Durham Freeway through downtown Durham and will also help divert traffic off local roads such as U.S. 15/501, which it says is often used as a connection between I-85 and I-40, as well as Roxboro, Mangum, Gregson, and Duke streets.
The Connector is expected to be open in 2019.
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Major Durham roadway now off limits due to 'East End Connector'
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