RALEIGH, NC (WVEC) -- North Carolina is announcing a major step in establishing a new interstate connecting Raleigh to Hampton Roads.

The state is planning improvements to 13 miles of US Highway 17, from the north-end of the Elizabeth City bypass to the Virginia border. US 17 will eventually be part of I-87.

The road already has multiple lanes, but traffic lights and intersections would have to be removed or reconfigured.

Section of US 17 that will undergo improvements to eventually transform it into part of Interstate 87, connecting Raleigh, NC with Hampton Roads.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved the I-87 designation last year, after Congress authorized the future interstate.

The interstate could take two decades to complete.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.