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Development stalled for some along future path of 540 loop

Posted November 28, 2012

— Signs of change – from malls and businesses to homes – are all over the area surrounding the newest section of N.C. Highway 540 in Holly Springs.

Although town leaders have credited the toll road, set to open Jan. 2, for driving economic development, growth in some parts of the town has stopped.

"It hasn't changed for us," said Pat Johnson. "As a matter of fact, it's worse."

Johnson's family owns 63 acres in southern Wake County near the intersection of Kildaire Farm and Holly Springs roads – a third of which is in the potential path of what's expected to someday be the southern portion of the 540 loop.

"I am being held hostage – prisoner," Johnson said. "We can't do anything with the property."

Over the past decade, she says, developers have been interested in the property but have been hesitant to buy because of uncertainty over the North Carolina Department of Transportation's plans to extend the toll road in southern Wake County to complete the Interstate 540/N.C. Highway 540 loop.

Up until last year, the land was part of what's called a "protected corridor" by the state in which areas where future highways are planned is restricted to development.

Last year, the DOT developed a preliminary plan showing what the path might be like through Johnson's property, but because the DOT can still change its mind about the toll road's path, she says, she still cannot sell the land.

540 construction Development stalled for some along future path of 540 loop

The holdups have potentially cost Johnson millions of dollars over the past 10 years. During that same time period, she's had to pay approximately $228,000 in property taxes on the land – taxes, she says, she can no longer afford.

Johnson says she supports the toll road project, just not the time the DOT has taken to develop concrete plans.

"You've got to be able to build the road, but it doesn't take 15, 20, 25 years to do it," she said. "This law needs to be changed, and the people in the Legislature of the state of North Carolina needs to get off their duffs and do it."

"It really is depressing to see all the (construction) activity going on, knowing we could be a part of it, but we're not," Johnson's husband, Ron Singleton, said.

The state recently purchased 2.5 acres of Johnson's property and is still considering another 20 acres. Johnson and Singleton are hopeful that will ease developers' concerns so that they will start building on their property.

Construction and planning on the 540 loop has been under way for years.

Right now, the completed portion of the 540 loop runs westward, as Interstate 540 from N.C. Highway 264 in Knightdale to N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville.

From N.C. 54 in Morrisville, it continues as a toll road, called the Triangle Expressway, through Morrisville and Cary to U.S. Highway 64 in Apex.

The stretch opening as a toll road in January, the Western Wake Expressway, will run from U.S. 64 in Apex to N.C. Highway 55 in Holly Springs.

What's left to build is the southern and eastern portions of the 540 loop – the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension – which will also be toll roads.

The southern portion is expected to stretch approximately 18 miles from N.C. 55 in Holly Springs to the Interstate 40 Clayton Bypass. The eastern portion would run about 12 miles from the I-40 Clayton Bypass to the existing I-540 near Knightdale.

43 Comments

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  • getrealpeople Nov 29, 4:58 p.m.

    Also when the EIS and 3 routes for southern section are resolved and 540 gets to I-40 and Clayton bypass (what a cluster that will be) then the last leg to 64 bypass will be left. By then the northen section will need widening and they will toll it all. :) careful what you ask for.

  • getrealpeople Nov 29, 4:55 p.m.

    Great comments but once they put the "proposed" line across your land you or any buyer can't build anything until they know how much land they will need. They don't know up or down. I know someone who has been dealing with this 540 issue since late 80's. Yes, over 20 years. It's build then design not design build. No smart buyer will buy it unless he is low balling you. Why should she sell it for lower when land nearby is selling for 5 times what they are offering???? Hire eminent domain attorney! Also your taxes will go to over $10,000 year on the land you can't sell or develop because proposed road. DOT will pay 10 times more for the land now than if they just bought it 10 years ago but that would make sense....

  • sweetums googoo Nov 29, 4:35 p.m.

    @cuffusion and lewiskr45

    I had to travel the toll road (for work) @ 5 pm on a Friday and I could have built a house on the section from 147 to Davis drive. NO ONE was on it. I hear this same thing all the time from people that live in this area. The tolls are not paying for anything... Period. Anything else said on this is "creative" accounting...
    How in the world did this thing get passed as a toll road? I40 from Durham to Raleigh in both directions is not only woefully overcrowded, undersized but actually very, very dangerous to travel. I was hoping that the southern 540 loop would siphon off traffic for the southern end of Wake that now goes all the way to Wade ave, but if it is a toll road, NO ONE WILL USE IT! Who do we need to fire (or vote out...) to get this changed and how many more people need to DIE in I40 wrecks for the 540 project to move forward? Really, I am asking... Does anyone know?

  • etshoney Nov 29, 4:23 p.m.

    Wait until the Government is in charge of Healthcare! It will make problems with the DOT look like a vacation. Government is SOOOO efficient!

  • NiceNSmooth Nov 29, 3:51 p.m.

    What's left to build is the southern and eastern portions of the 540 loop – the Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension – which will also be toll roads.

    so does that mean the westward, as Interstate 540 from N.C. Highway 264 in Knightdale to N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville will never have to pay tolls?

  • lewiskr45 Nov 29, 3:45 p.m.

    "Our family lives near the 540 toll road. We DON'T use it strictly because we can drive on other roads for FREE. If they want tolls, charge the millions of vehicles passing through the state on I-95 everyday. They'll get all the money they need for 540. But as it is now, our family and our neighbors REFUSE to use the 540 toll road."

    Hate to break it to you, but NO roads are free. TAXES (gas tax and other local, state, and federal taxes) are used to pay for non-toll roads. The money collected from tolls are used to pay for those roads. You pay for every inch of road you use.

  • beachboater Nov 29, 3:32 p.m.

    "So let me get this straight: 'potential use' is now a compensatory gov't entitlement?" A_Patriot

    Reread the article. Until last year, the property was part of a "protected corridor" which restricts the development of the property. A developer would not pay much for a piece of land if he didn't know what he could do with it now would he?

    You read about things like this in the paper occasionally. Someone buys a nice building lot for a premium price, but they can't afford to put a house on it at the time. They save their money, pay their taxes, and then start getting ready to build. Now the environmental rules have changed and the land is worthless. Worthless, only because new regulations call a dry lot a wetland or because someone finds fossilized fluted spotted canary eagle hawk oil dung on it. And the landowner suffers. I should say the taxpayer landowner suffers.

    It should be dealt with.

  • ladyblue Nov 29, 1:45 p.m.

    No one is denying your right to own your land (or sell it). patriot

    then are u saying they are lying and owner can sell the land. accoarding to article she can't do anything with it as long as state has it in the "headlock"...

  • ladyblue Nov 29, 1:44 p.m.

    The holdups have potentially cost Johnson millions of dollars over the past 10 years. During that same time period, she's had to pay approximately $228,000 in property taxes on the land – taxes, she says, she can no longer afford.

    IMO if the state has grabbed "hold of it so to speak" taxes should not be paid by owner since owner has no cntrol over the land. but then the state isn't known
    for playing fair.

  • cantstandgoloanymore Nov 29, 12:52 p.m.

    cuffusion - doesn't fall under equal protection because it isn't a the only route from the area and they are limited to only using it.

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