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NCDOT seeks input from residents in 540 loop study area

Posted September 19, 2013

— Plans to finish the N.C. Highway 540 outer loop around Raleigh are back on track, and so is the debate and controversy that has dogged the project for years. 

Study resumed earlier this month on the project, dubbed "Complete 540," and the North Carolina Department of Transportation is holding a series of public meetings to determine the best options for connecting the final section of the outer loop, south of the city of Raleigh, from Holly Springs to Knightdale.

Officials reached out this week to the 52,000 residents in the study area to ask for their input on the 17 possible routes for the highway.

Those in the Turner Farm area south of Garner said the "lilac route" would drastically change their community.

"I don't see any advantages of it coming through here," said Kevin Wertz, who said the lilac route would run directly through a strip of woods on his property. "That would just be horrible. It would be a bad deal."

Terry Gibson, a chief engineer with NCDOT, said federal law requires that officials study every possible route – taking the number of homes, businesses and environmental impacts into consideration – before making a decision.

"Every one of these routes represents neighborhoods and businesses and homes that are impacted," Gibson said. "We are only choosing one, so the people that are concerned right now (might) never be impacted by this project."

540 loop 'Complete 540' project again sparks debate

Complete 540 was sidelined in 2011 over concerns about a potential route for the highway called the “red route,” which would go through Garner. Town officials, economic developers and residents opposed the route, saying it would stifle new business growth.

Opposition to the red route grew so loud that lawmakers blocked state transportation officials from even studying it. That prohibition put the state in violation of the federal law requiring an environmental impact study. In turn, federal funding stopped, essentially bringing the project to a halt.

But lawmakers in May approved changes to allow the red route to be studied, although they vowed it would never be built.

State transportation Secretary Tony Tata said the department can now complete all the environmental studies needed to get the project going. It will take about a year to finish the studies, and no funding has been set aside yet.

Groundbreaking wouldn’t happen before 2018, officials said.

The public is invited to offer input at three public meetings:

4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14
Wake Tech Community College
9101 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh

4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15
Barwell Road Community Center
3935 Barwell Road
Raleigh

6 to 9 p.m.Wednesday, Oct. 16
Holly Springs High School
5329 Cass Holt Road
Holly Springs

33 Comments

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  • ConservativeVoter Sep 23, 11:01 a.m.

    WRAL, please publish the revenue collected, cars using, and the profit/loss of the the NC540/NC147 toll road.

  • ConservativeVoter Sep 23, 11:01 a.m.

    The Nimby's are out in full force today.

  • cjw6105 Sep 23, 10:11 a.m.

    Truckers will use the new toll road if it's built? LOL. Tolls for trucks would be considerably higher than cars, and everybody seems to complain about the toll amounts for automobiles.

    If they must build a toll road, why not make the toll $1 per vehicle, regardless of how long you stay on it? The current 540 and 147 toll roads are ghost highways that will never make even enough to pay their upkeep, much less their building costs.

    As a matter of principle, I will never get on one of these toll roads, and I think most people reading this agree. While many of us endure the never-ending traffic headaches on the US1-I440 Beltline from Wade Avenue to Cary, which hasn't been widened since it was built as a 4-lane expressway in 1963, NC DOT continues to build other freeways and now wants to turn them into toll roads.

    WRAL, how about releasing some numbers on just how much revenue the current Triangle toll road is generating vs how much it cost to build and how much it costs to maintain?

  • iamsiam1096 Sep 20, 7:24 p.m.

    actually the orange route is the one that was initially planned (and studied and chosen) building has been limited along it for many many years. When they agreed to let them finish early and do the toll that is when they found out more routes had to be studied and they could not go with the old choice from so many years ago.

  • iamsiam1096 Sep 20, 6:59 p.m.

    I don't understand why they don't just incorporate 55 to 42 then work up shotwell area towards Knightdale. This idea to o thru these other areas is inane as it is supposedly going to be toll and it doesn't make it worth it as the alternate free routes would be used. using 55 and 42 along the southern border would bring in the growth south of Raleigh and work off of existing roads. No route is going to make everyone happy but it makes more sense to work with existing infrastructure and it would make the most logical choice to get drivers to use it. If they choose any of the existing suggestions I see little reason to use them and pay the toll.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Sep 20, 5:04 p.m.

    "The orange route will ruin everything that I love about where I live."

    But your opinion doesn't matter. You're just one person and this group has figured out a few will complain no matter what. Like almost all things American anymore, 1 person's opinion matters not.

    The bottom line? Even though you were told reviving this would be the only way to "end it", it's going to do the exact opposite.

    This will plow right through Garner, and all things you love, so start packing.

  • Student Nurse Sep 20, 1:52 p.m.

    The orange route will ruin everything that I love about where I live. It is quiet, full of wildlife, and green with nature. I never saw a bluebird in my life until I moved here to the TenTen road area....and I have lived in NC all my life. I think 540 coming through here is simply unnecessary and detrimental to the environment.

  • wolfpack32 Sep 20, 12:58 p.m.

    It looks like the orange route will go straight through our house. Great.

  • scsandersclan Sep 20, 12:24 p.m.

    Because it is not your property in Johnston Co. that is being affected by the route the road takes. The fact that your tax dollars are involved in it has nothing to do with the physical location of the road anymore than it does with any other road in the state.

    Wheelman

    You need to look at the map again. A portion of the orange and brown route go into Johnston County. And if I'm going to use the road and help pay for it, why not have a voice in it.

    If they build the red route, it will not alleviate the current traffic problems. Too far north. Drive from Johnston County into Raleigh one morning and you will see.

  • ConservativeVoter Sep 20, 11:15 a.m.

    They won't toll I-540 because it was built with federal funding. If NCDOT tolls it, they would have to repay the federal government for all the federal funding spent on the construction of the highway.

    The southern part of the loop wasn't scheduled to have construction start until 2025.

    To accelerate the construction of the southern part of the loop, they made it NC-540 and a toll road.

    It was a choice of wait until 2025 or make 540 a toll road in Southern Wake County.

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