Without 'red route,' feds to end funding for extending Wake toll road

Posted April 10, 2012

— The Federal Highway Administration plans to withdraw funding for plans to extend the N.C. Highway 540 loop around Wake County because the state prohibits consideration of a controversial route for the highway through Garner.

Federal officials have given the North Carolina Turnpike Authority until May 19 to agree to conduct more environmental tests along the so-called "red route" or lose access to millions of dollars in federal funding for the project in the coming years.

The southeast portion of N.C. 540 would extend the Triangle Expressway toll road – currently under construction in southwest Wake County – and complete the loop highway.

State lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last year to block the state Department of Transportation from including the route in preliminary studies for the southeast extension of N.C. 540. Garner officials said the mere threat of a highway cutting through the middle of town was scaring off business and preventing people from buying and selling homes near the route.

The Turnpike Authority has said it wouldn't use the red route because of its adverse impact on 13 neighborhoods, a church and the town’s primary industrial recruitment area. But the DOT had to study the option because the Army Corps of Engineers requires that at least two proposed routes be studied before it will issue an environmental permit to allow highway construction to begin.

Federal transportation officials say they want data on what homes and businesses would have to move if the red route were used for the highway, as well as information on wetlands and streams along the route and an analysis of traffic, noise and other impacts.


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  • Alexia.1 Apr 11, 2012

    Why even build a loop? Do people drive around in circles? One would think that spokes out of Raleigh would make more sense, anyway. Anyway... loop... quite symbolic.

  • FarmerDoug Apr 11, 2012

    More whiny Yankees posting again. You left noise and traffic up north, don't mess up the quiet South. Our voices and votes will pacify the growth, noise, and traffic towards the "CARY's" (Concentrated Areas of Relocated Yankees). Keep grippin', we'll acclimate with y'all like y'all aren't.

  • GK N.Ral Apr 11, 2012

    Garner wants their cake and to eat it also. Good for the feds. If Garner wants to be in our world, they will have to come up with the money.

  • Nope Apr 11, 2012

    "Give it up y'all, Garner's where you really would like to be."

    Now that's funny!!!

  • 59cruisers Apr 11, 2012

    While it seemed very unlikely that the red route could ever be built, just having it on the table completely shut down all residential real estate and business development. Why would anyone invest in a town that is slated to have a large portion of it demolished, and the remainder blighted by a highway? No other town in the triangle has been subject to this. In each section, alternative routes were proposed to appease the feds. In each case, they were removed within months. That's what was supposed to happen with the red route, but the federal government has blocked it. What I don't understand is why that original study did not count. The route was laid out, and the costs were tallied for demolishing Garner. It quickly became apparent that it was completely impractical route. That's where the feds stepped in and said you need to have a multi-year study. This makes no sense. Someone in the federal government has a ax to grind against the town of Garner.

  • Rebelyell Apr 10, 2012

    We need a subway system not toll roads. I would love to take a train from Oxford to work in Raleigh.
    My "work" is kicking in your back doors and loading up some goodies.

  • 3forme Apr 10, 2012

    Bendal..if it was going thru your house you might feel a little different..

  • mcfly Apr 10, 2012

    For anyone who is interested in knowing a factual history/evolution of the section of 540 known as the Southern Wake Expressway, please turn your attention to the following NCDOT website:

    Scroll down towards the bottom and you'll find a trove of .pdf files that are large but very informative. I would direct your attention to one in particular:

    This particular .pdf contains maps of the section stretching from US401 to I40 in southern Wake County. Page 2 of 29 clearly shows that the drawn route as filed in March/1997 is the one known as the Orange Route.

    I also find of particular interest (b/c I was unaware how far back the planning went) that the intent, as drawn and submitted in March/1997, of this section of 540 was to meet the US70 Bypass at I40... exactly were the US70 Bypass sits today.

  • Bendal1 Apr 10, 2012

    annbyrd, if it's clear to everyone that it's nothing but a paper alternate, why did some fearful and ignorant property owners put the state in a bind, by getting the legislature to kill the alternate? It's a non-viable alternative; NCTA and the Feds know this, they've known it from the start. It's a paper alternative to satisfy NEPA and agency requirements, nothing more. Apparently some property owners and Garner officials thought they could just legislate NEPA away, and now everyone's finding that has consequences.

    So, here's what needs to happen next. The legislature needs to rescind their ban on studying the Red route, which frees up Federal money to keep funding this study. It won't be selected; they know it, NCTA knows it, and the agencies know it. Maybe Garner can convince the nervous Nellies afraid that they're right and the experts are wrong, but I kind of doubt it.

  • superman Apr 10, 2012

    Wish we had a new road but I dont want it too close or too far from my house. Maybe they can demolish your house. We all want it but then we dont want it to affect us. I am special and you are not. How do you think they can build a road without affecting people?