Hunt Nixes Duraleigh Connector
Posted December 7, 1996
RALEIGH — "It's such a beautiful, serene, natural area, and those are so rare and getting rarer -- I do not want that road built." With those words on Friday, Gov. Jim Hunt killed the proposed connecting road between I-40 in Cary and U.S. 70 in northwest Raleigh.
The proposed link, called the Duraleigh Connector, had been hotly debated by those who wanted to reduce traffic congestion and those who were afraid of irreparable harm to Schenck Forest and Umstead Park.
Technically, the decision on building the 2.6 mile road, which carries a $51 million price tag, rests with the state Board of Transportation, which will meet in January. The board, with 21 of 23 members Hunt appointees, routinely follows the governor's recommendations.
Among those who ultimately opposed the project were Wake County officials, N.C. State University officials, city leaders and many environmentalists. Many developers and state transportation officials had supported the concept.
Hunt also reviewed an environmental study conducted by the N.C. Dept. of Environment, Health and Natural Resources (DEHNR), which came up with an alternative site for such a connector.
That alternative, called the Edwards Mill extension, would run parallel to the proposed Duraleigh route, and provide a connection between Crabtree Valley Mall, which is on U.S.70, and Carter-Finley Stadium off Blue Ridge Road, and give more direct access to I-40 from north Raleigh.
Hunt, who mulled the connector for months, also made a site visit. "I think he felt in a very visceral way the sanctity of the property," said DEHNR Secretary Jonathan Howes. "That had an impact on him. It does make a difference to go out and see it."