Raleigh, N.C. — One of the first bills filed as the state House reconvened Wednesday for its 2013 session would resurrect the hated "red route" option for a highway through Garner.
Lawmakers two years ago approved legislation prohibiting the state Department of Transportation from including the red route in preliminary studies for the southeast extension of N.C. Highway 540. The route would cut through 13 Garner neighborhoods and the town's primary industrial recruitment area and town officials complained the threat of the highway was hurting them economically.
When the Federal Highway Administration threatened to withdraw funding for plans to extend N.C. 540 because of the law, area planners voted last month to ask the General Assembly to repeal the law. The Army Corps of Engineers requires that at least two proposed routes be studied before it will issue an environmental permit to allow highway construction to begin, and federal officials want to compile statistics on the impact each possible route would have on homes, businesses and the environment.
House Bill 10, which is co-sponsored by Wake County Republicans Paul Stam and Nelson Dollar, would strip the language from a bill authorizing planning on turnpike projects across the state that blocked consideration of any route north of a DOT protected corridor for the N.C. 540 extension.
"We need to get that study done and completed so we can end that foolishness of thinking about running a toll road through a city. The sooner we get started, the sooner we finish," Stam said.
"Nobody has any ill will toward Garner. We love Garner," he said. "We think this is actually the best thing for the people around Garner – to get this over and done with."
The highway would add to the Triangle Expressway toll road in southwest Wake County and complete the loop highway around the county.
Other early bills in the House included one to allow guns in restaurants, provide compensation to victims of the state's former forced sterilization program and require anyone under age 18 to obtain a physician's permission to go to a tanning salon. Also, three proposed constitutional amendments were filed.
Meanwhile, one of the first Senate bills filed would exempt North Carolina from some provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, while another would increase penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses.