540 extension puts plans in limbo for cancer-stricken Garner couple
Posted October 23, 2013
Updated October 24, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Plans to extend the N.C. Highway 540 outer loop around Raleigh are still years from becoming a reality, but the talk of it is causing concerns for a Wake County family facing a serious medical diagnosis.
Dee Phelan is battling cancer and wants to sell her home in the Turner Farms neighborhood, just outside Garner.
But the home is along one of 17 potential routes of the future highway that federal rules require the North Carolina Department of Transportation to consider.
According to the DOT, a preferred route for the 540 project – which will connect the final section of the outer loop, south of Raleigh, from Holly Springs to Knightdale – will not be chosen for at least two more years.
Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2018.
"When I heard about it, I just cried, because I said, 'I do not need this in my life right now,'" Phelan said Wednesday. "The timeline is unpredictable, and I wanted to move forward and be closer to my grandchildren."
Phelan's husband, John Phelan, said that with the possibility of a major roadway in the area, selling their home of more than 20 years would be near impossible.
If he could move it on the market, he says, he believes he would get much less than he needs for it.
"Anybody who would want to buy the house would know this is close to where 540 could end up," he said.
Countless other people could be in the same situation as the Phelans. Recent meetings for concerned citizens brought out thousands.
"They have got to wait, too, and see what (the DOT) is going to pick," Dee Phelan said.
That wait is the problem for the Phelans.
"Our home is part of our future," she said.
With her cancer diagnosis, the family is unsure of that future, and they want to move forward.
"We are just kind of stuck," John Phelan said.