'Red route' fix one vote away

Posted May 30, 2013

— The impasse over the next leg of the N.C. Highway 540 loop could be over next week. 

The state Senate voted 44-5 Thursday to approve changes that would break a federal logjam created by a 2011 law.

House Bill 10 would allow state transportation officials to study the so-called "red route," a potential corridor for the loop that cuts straight through the heart of Garner.

However, the bill also gives legislators the final say on where the road will go – and House and Senate leaders pledge the red route won't be an option. 

The conflict came about because federal regulations require the state to at least study the route's potential environmental and economic impact. In 2011, concerned local officials and lawmakers successfully pushed for a law banning the state from considering or even studying that route. 

Because the 2011 law put the state in violation of federal regulation, federal funding stopped, essentially bringing the N.C. 540 project to a grinding halt. House Bill 10 resolves the conflict and allows federal dollars to begin flowing again.

Some local lawmakers and officials oppose the fix. They say they're concerned federal officials will require the state to build the loop through Garner.

But supporters say it's up to the state to make the final decision on the highway's path. They promise lawmakers won't consider the red route. In the meantime, without federal funding, the N.C. 540 loop can't be completed.  

House lawmakers approved the legislation in February, but the bill was caught up in a political battle between House and Senate leaders and spent weeks in limbo in a conference committee.

The compromise version emerged Wednesday with the controversial parts removed.  

The measure still needs final House approval. That vote is expected Monday night.

It then goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.


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  • Justic4All Jun 3, 2013

    I ran out of space earlier. Also going across country route has to cost less and take less time than ripping through a community . The I-40 to 540 in Knightdale leg should be built before the southern re-construction of 440 occurs. They just got done with that and it'll hold for a couple more years. At least people from the coast would have a viable route avoiding all the turmoil to the airport, RTP and beyond. It's so easy. I'm glad Bev is gone. Since McCrory has taken office I-40 and the 440 loop has been cleaned by street cleaning machines and working people, (non-prisoners). He's doing good at putting people to work, now if Tata will take one step further, stop 440 re-build until 540 leg is completed, he would be spending the money wisely.

  • Justic4All Jun 3, 2013

    Whoever dreamt up the RED route must hold a grudge against someone who lives there. The route does not clean anything up in Garner as it goes through a very nice established neighborhood. Someone pointed out it's a mile off B-70 where Timber Drive is already in place and goes to White Oak Shopping center which is at I-40 and a mile from B-70. I drive 540 to 264 and then meander through the country to home so I do know what the country looks like.. I live out there and believe the route should continue across country, brushing near the Raleigh Police training area, water works, now an experimental solar farm. It should continue cross country going over business 70 to a point where the 70 by-pass joins I-40 making a beautiful interchange. All of this is vacant country that would open for business and community growth. That is what outer loops should do and could continue south of 42 increasing the area tax base along the entire route to Holly Springs. It's so easy. Who supports Red????

  • Tax Man Jun 1, 2013

    If it is the best route it should be used. Eminent domain works and Garner will just have to live with it. We need to finish the and we need to use the best route available for all the people. The only problem is we need to get rid of the tolls.

  • ConservativeVoter May 31, 2013

    I've been to Garner. Building the red route would clean up Garner.

  • ConservativeVoter May 31, 2013

    NIMBY's at it again.

  • chivegas May 31, 2013

    "And for the person that thinks it increases property values, get your head out of your four points of contact. Would you buy a house where you hear a constant rumble of a major highway? I used to live a mile and a half thru the woods from I40, and you could hear it all the time. I'll be within 600' of this one. Between traffic, noise, and a plummeting property value, I might as well walk away from my home."

    It's a fact that new roads (esp highways) increase property values. You can argue that all you want, but you're still wrong.

  • Bendal1 May 31, 2013


    Well, when the state destroys homes and businesses without paying for them, like a tornado does, perhaps you'll have an apt comparison. Except, the state does purchase the homes and property it needs to build a road, and those people who have their homes/businesses bought can buy another place anywhere they want. You make it sound as if the bulldozers show up and force the homeowners out the door and leave them homeless.

  • chip8 May 31, 2013

    To get a good preview of what the "Red Route" would mean for Garner just try to get around now in Holly Springs or New Hill. These roads are designed to force travelers to take the toll road and completely disrupt travel for anyone who wishes to travel on secondary roads. The New Hill Hollman Road in now a dead end and there is no way to get to Holly Springs using this route. This route means the death on many locally owned businesses. Great progress...let them all shop at Wal Mart and the Dollar Stores. Who benefits, follow the money.

  • zonk May 31, 2013

    Anyone who has a clue knows this needs to be done in this order. Give Barefoot and the Republicans and Democrats alike for moving this thing forward. Things ARE getting done in Raleigh instead of just logjams like our Federal Government. Let them work. This Southern Loop has had people's land tied up for 10 plus years 1 It's time to get moving !!!

  • hpr641 May 31, 2013

    In order to build the 'Orange' route (which those in Garner do want), the feds. require you at least study a 2nd optional route, so that there is something to compare it to (otherwise, you don't get the federal $'s for it). The lawmakers are pledging not to ever actually use the 'Red' route, but they have to have one for comparison purposes. Either that, or we'll just forever have a missing part of the I-540 ring.

    Oh, BTW, my understanding is that if I-540 ever becomes a complete loop, it would become "I-640" ... because complete loops and given even 3-digit numbers ... odd 3-digit numbers are for partial loops.