Wake planners seek green light on 'red route' study for toll road

Posted December 12, 2012
Updated December 13, 2012

— Wake County officials voted Wednesday to ask state legislators to repeal a law that prohibits transportation planners from even studying a potential toll road path through Garner.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which coordinates area growth and transportation planning efforts, called on the General Assembly to scrap the 2011 law "at its earliest convenience."

The law blocked the state Department of Transportation from including the so-called "red route" in preliminary studies for the southeast extension of N.C. Highway 540. The route cuts through 13 Garner neighborhoods and the town's primary industrial recruitment area.

"I can't see why you'd take this law off the books if you're sensitive to economic development, and everybody in this room is," Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams told CAMPO members.

Williams noted that companies in the path of the red route have added 250 jobs and invested $50 million in the area since the law was enacted. Before that, he said, the mere threat of a highway cutting through the middle of Garner scared off business and prevented people from buying and selling homes near the proposed corridor.

Other local officials said, however, that federal officials forced their hand on the issue.

The Federal Highway Administration threatened to withdraw funding for plans to extend N.C. 540 because of the law. The highway would add to the Triangle Expressway toll road – currently under construction in southwest Wake County – and complete the loop highway around the county.

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, and federal officials wanted to compile statistics on the impact each possible route would have on homes, businesses and the environment. Map of NC 540 red route Repeal of NC law could open funding for Wake toll road

"The feds have drawn a line in the sand," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said. "We need to get back in the queue for federal funding, or this project will never be built."

The Federal Highway Administration pays for about 80 percent of planning costs, but DOT officials couldn't estimate how much the state risks losing if the law remains in place.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority has said it wouldn't use the red route, but Weatherly and others said the corridor needs to be studied so the highway can get federal funding and be built.

"At the end of the day, if we can't get something fixed in some fashion, we can't not do the Outer Loop," Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen said.


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  • davidtew2005 Dec 17, 2012

    Yet again we find ourselves under the thumb of the feds. The original route from years ago had the design that was aproved and also forced land owners from being able to develope their property. If the original route is not used who will make up the loss of income these people could have had but were denied the ability to do so for these many years? So some one has to spend money considering the red route, which will not ever be used anyway just to kiss up to the feds. Maybe NC shcould just declare themselves an independant state and tell the feds to shove it!!

  • oleguy Dec 13, 2012

    Let the chinese build it, it their money,,

  • 12345_here Dec 13, 2012

    At the end of the day, houses will leveled , people will be displaced and other items will happen.
    the 540 toll/route is needed for econmic growth that will benefit all. The alternative is gridlock and stagnation.

    the best route should still be the orange route. I think the fresh water mussel's will be fine

  • charlesboyer Dec 13, 2012

    It's time to move this highway forward. Study the Red Route, choose it or another and let's get it done. The southern end of Wake County needed the infrastructure 10 years ago.

  • 3forme Dec 13, 2012

    Enough of the "Garner is standing in the way" rhetoric..The red route goes directly through my house on Hwy 50 so i think maybe I have to say something...they can include some of the other 'original" proposed routes for their study without using the red route..Sick and tired of this part of the county getting the short end of the stick..Mayor Williams has worked tirelessly to stop this and the rest of Garner has backed him. Find some one else to blame..if you want these thoroughfares then find another solution and Apex and Knightdale mayors need mayors need to stick to their own business...

  • nc creature Dec 13, 2012

    Is this the same route that goes through a church & cemetery?

  • Think_people Dec 13, 2012

    GEOSOL-"Thank you REPUBLICAN NC legislature for passing this ridiculous law that you knew would jeopardize funding for a badly needed road. Now, all you good little right wingers be sure to try to blame EVERYBODY ELSE besides your REPUBLICAN politicians for making their own mess."

    Have a little surpise for you GEOSOL, You thought you found a "blame the evil repubs", Guess what, see the list of votes. Funny thing all but ONE Demo VOTED YES!!

    Ayes: Representative(s): Adams; Alexander, K.; Alexander, M.; Bell; Bordsen; Brandon; Brisson; Bryant; Carney; Cotham; Crawford; Earle; Faison; Farmer-Butterfield; Fisher; Floyd; Gill; Glazier; Goodman; Graham; Hackney; Haire; Hall; Hamilton; Hill; Insko; Jackson; Jeffus; Keever; Lucas; Luebke; Martin; McGuirt; McLawhorn; Michaux; Mobley; Moore, R.; Parfitt; Parmon; Pierce; Rapp; Ross; Spear; Tolson; Wainwright; Warren, E.; Weiss; Wilkins; Womble; Wray

    Representative(s): Avila; Barnhart; Blackwell; Blust; Boles; Bradley;

  • sonicbluezx3 Dec 13, 2012

    "So, find another route. One that goes through the middle of a town makes no sense. As I recall there were several other routes that were proposed and dismissed. Maybe we should look at them again."

    There was another route. But the environmentalists would rather have the road go through a town and displace people and jobs than displace some little mussel that apparently only has its habitat where the road needs to go through. Ridiculous. If these environmental regulations would ease then roads would be built a lot faster and may actually keep up with development.

  • sonicbluezx3 Dec 13, 2012

    "who cares...it's gonna be a toll road and another expense. Common folk won't drive it. Too expensive!!"

    I would be willing to bet the 2-4 dollars each direction which enables you to cruise at highway speeds rather than stop and go would at the very least even out the cost of gas. Not to mention lower road rage and get you to work faster. If I lived there I'd use it.

  • sonicbluezx3 Dec 13, 2012

    "Why don't we get rid of the toll and add a tax to vehicles across the state? That's what we do for all other roads. Perhaps then the road might truly help ease congestion."

    No... this state already has some of the highest taxes in the nation. How about use the money that comes in for roads and not other things? And forget about that outer banks bridge. Let nature claim it and spend the tax money on areas where the most people live.