Holly Springs, N.C. — John Golden moved to Holly Springs form Colorado nearly three years ago. In that time, he says he's seen quite a bit of growth in the area.
Some area leaders credit the new N.C. Highway 540 toll road with driving economic development in Holly Springs, as well as the rest of southwest Wake County.
Housing developments are springing up. Shopping centers are under construction, and much of the development is within a few miles of the toll road.
"This is a blessing," Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears said Thursday. "It gives people accessibility to getting to the airport a lot faster, getting to RTP a lot faster."
The first section of the state's first toll road through Research Triangle Park opened late last year. Traffic started moving on the second phase along N.C. Highway 55, near Morrisville to Apex, in August. The final section, from U.S. 64 to N.C. 55 Bypass in Holly Springs, is on course to open in January.
New building permits are on the rise in southwest Wake. Compared to the same time last year, Holly Springs has seen a 55 percent increase in the number of permits issued. Fuquay-Varina has seen a 44 percent increase, and Apex reports a 38 percent increase in building permits.
The Brier Creek area in north Raleigh exploded with Interstate 540 in the late 1990s. Subdivisions everywhere are anchored by the shopping center.
Sears says he sees the same potential for Holly Springs.
Golden says he is looking forward to it.
"It'll be convenient," he said. "A lot of eating areas – that's one thing we don't have here in Holly Springs, a lot of good sit-down restaurants."
Sears says the town has taken steps to help ease potential traffic congestion as a result of the toll road.
"We've widened our roads, repaved our roads. We've done a lot of different things to help with the traffic issue. I can't think of another negative," Sears said.