Garner, N.C. — After hearing from concerned Garner residents Wednesday evening, North Carolina Turnpike Authority officials said that they will suggest one route being studied as possible extension to the state’s first toll road not be used.
The N.C. 540 Southeast Extension would connect to and complete the Triangle Expressway, which is under construction in Wake and Durham counties.
Members of the community said that one proposed route, referred to as the Red Route, would have an adverse effect on 13 neighborhoods as well as the town’s primary industrial recruitment area.
"How would you feel if a bulldozer was coming through your home?" asked Garner resident Patrice Johnson.
"We are not here to hurt, but to help," said Steve DeWitt, of the Turnpike Authority said.
The Turnpike Authority officials said Wednesday that the Red Route would help protect mussels, an endangered species.
"There are mussels, we know, south of Lake Benson," DeWitt said.
Earlier this month, the Turnpike Authority announced that it eliminated three other routes - referred to as the Blue, Purple and Yellow corridors.
Officials said public input was a factor in the decision to eliminate the routes. The Turnpike Authority received more than 2,000 individual comments, as well as numerous petitions and local government resolutions during a public comment period.
In addition to the Red Route, the Turnpike Authority is considering four other routes, including one between Interstate 40 and Knightdale (the Tan Corridor).
DeWitt said he hopes to get the Red Route off the map, but it is all part of a process.
"We ask that their results be timely and that this Red Route be removed from consideration," Garner councilman Buck Kennedy said.
The routes will be studied further in the coming months. In-depth discussions of each option are scheduled to begin early next year.
The Turnpike Authority said more routes could be eliminated.