I.L. "Buck" Dean Freeway

Also called "N.C. 147," "Durham Freeway" and "Durham Expressway," the restricted-access highway connecting Interstate 85 and Interstate 40 through downtown is named for Iley .L. "Buck" Dean, city councilman 1961-1964 and member of the state Board of Transportation.

From the early 1950s, Durham officials and downtown merchants feared that traffic congestion would drive commerce away from the central business district. When the Research Triangle Park was planned in the mid-1950s, it included a high-speed connector road to downtown Durham. A route, close to that actually built, appears on park concept drawings by 1957.

While the Freeway is conventionally blamed for destroying the heart of the African-American Hayti business district, a 1962 bond referendum for its construction (along with a bond referendum for Hayti's urban renewal) won voter approval only because of heavy favorable voting in three predominantly black precincts.

The issues failed elsewhere in Durham, but advocacy by the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs (now on Affairs of Black People), North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. and the Carolina Times newspaper helped produce an African-American turnout large enough to carry the two bonds.

Construction began in 1967 and by late 1970 a section from Chapel Hill Street to Alston Avenue was finished. Connection to I-40 opened in March 1973 and an extension west to Erwin Road in 1976. Completion to I-85 was delayed for years by opposition to its routing through the predominantly African American Crest Street neighborhood that was resolved only by the city's rebuilding the neighborhood outside the highway corridor in the 1980s. The Freeway opened to U.S. 15-501 in 1993, and to I-85 in 1996.

Iley L. "Buck" Dean