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Lawmakers reversing course on proposed Garner highway

Posted February 13, 2013

— The House on Wednesday tentatively approved a repeal of a 2011 law prohibiting transportation planners from considering routing N.C. Highway 540 through Garner.

In a vote that crossed party lines, the House voted 79-37 on the second reading of House Bill 10. A final vote is expected Thursday, after which it would go to the Senate.

Wake County leaders have planned for years for an N.C. 540 corridor that would take the highway south of Garner. But federal officials insisted on studying alternatives, including the so-called "red route," which would take the highway through the middle of town.

After lawmakers blocked planners from even studying the red route, federal transportation officials cut off planning funds needed to complete N.C. 540, saying the state was no longer in compliance with environmental regulations for the project.

Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, urged passage of the bill, saying the red route had to be on the table so that the rest of the N.C. 540 loop can be built. But he vowed that the route would never be used, saying it's not financially feasible to plow under Garner neighborhoods and businesses.

If the state Department of Transportation ultimately chooses to build the red route, Dollar said, he would file legislation to stop the highway altogether.

Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, questioned how Republicans who repeatedly call for cutting waste could back a bill that calls for spending $12 million to $15 million on a road that will never be built. He praised the 2011 law, saying Garner was able to attract company relocations and expansions after the specter of the red route was removed.

"Let's not waste this money. Let's figure out a different alternative," Jackson said.

Rep. William Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, blamed the federal government for forcing the state to study the red route, but he said the bill needs to be passed so construction on N.C. 540 can proceed.

"You build what you can get funded, not what you need," Brawley said.

DOT officials said they expect the red route study, which will be paid for by the federal government, to take 12 to 24 months.

17 Comments

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  • Come On_Seriously Feb 15, 2:47 p.m.

    I have already discovered a technique to use the toll road and never ever pay a toll!!! Thanks toll road authority for making my commute so enjoyable! goncampn

    Thanks for having the mindset that has put us in the fiscal hole.

  • superman Feb 14, 4:47 p.m.

    Can they build a new road anywhere without disturbing someone? Wish they would forget about new roads and resurface our street that was completed 35 years ago. Never has been resurfaced.

    Toll roads are an excellent solution. Those that use the raod are the ones who pay for it. Why should I pay for a road for you to use when you wont pay for a road that I use.

  • krimson Feb 14, 9:10 a.m.

    Bendal1: "This is the only bill so far that the legislators have passed I agree with. It was stupid for the previous legislature to kill the Red route; FHWA is very clear on requiring two alternatives for any new location project with Federal money. Only have one alternative? Then the state gets no Federal money to plan, design or build it with."

    Apparently there are few people that understand what this is all about... Its just Due Dilegence...

  • lets go fishin Feb 13, 9:14 p.m.

    Both routes will be toll roads and neither would be used due to toll fee. folks cant hardly afford to drive period.

  • goncampn2 Feb 13, 7:41 p.m.

    I have already discovered a technique to use the toll road and never ever pay a toll!!! Thanks toll road authority for making my commute so enjoyable!!

  • cjw6105 Feb 13, 7:29 p.m.

    You'll never see a toll road rammed through Old Raleigh (Boylan Heights, Hayes Barton, Cameron Village/St. Mary's), but Garner is a different story. Long the whipping boy of Raleigh school politics, the rich snobs inside the Beltline and Legislature Building look down their noses when looking southeast toward poor, blue-collar Garner, which stands in the way of more Raleigh "progress".

    More toll $$$ is being dangled in front of these politicians, who are more determined than ever to find a way to get what they want, which is more toll revenue.

    The way they want to get it is by building another section of the NC 540 (not I-540) loop, one that can get built quicker with the shorter route through Garner so the tolls can go up ASAP. And just how much money is the NC 540 toll road from Holly Springs to NC 147 pulling in?

    What the DOT should be doing instead is fixing what they have first, starting with the US 1/I-440 Beltline segment between Wade Avenue and Cary.

  • markjb33 Feb 13, 4:57 p.m.

    Well, whichever route they ultimately choose, it will not be a toll road. They are constantly remining us that the "last" leg of the triangle expressway is completed.

  • oleguy Feb 13, 4:51 p.m.

    So,, Just dont build that last part, We dont have the money any how...DUH,, Our Govt at work,,,

  • wral mods blow close my account Feb 13, 4:46 p.m.

    Those on the red route remember: Chad Barefoot has no pull with his Republican buddies. At least your last rep protected your interests.

  • Great Dane Guy Feb 13, 4:43 p.m.

    @ baldchip - Not the Obama administration...these laws have been on the books for a very long time and are intended to prevent the Government from picking an Alternative and building it regardless on the consequences to the natural or human environment. I seriously doubt that the Red Route will be built, but it has to be studied if the loop is to be completed.

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