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Tempers Flare At Raleigh City Council Over Outer Loop Concerns

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Raleigh City Council is trying to pave the way for the completion of the Outer Loop, but so far, councilmembers have encountered some roadblocks along the way.

At Tuesday's city council meeting, Mayor Charles Meeker reversed his earlier stance on the Outer Loop, appearing ready to support a resolution in favor of completing the project when competing resolutions were proposed.

Then, Meeker and his majority chose to have a committee look over the resolution instead of voting of it.

"This has been a heated debate and I really do encourage the council to work together. Let's come back with language we all can support and move together as a group," Meeker said at the meeting.

The statement was met with a terse response from councilman Kieran Shanahan.

"This is serious business and through politics, shenanigans and absolute degradation of the rule of law and the rule of process, you (Meeker) are preventing the people's business from being done," Shanahan told the council. "It is a disgrace and it is counter-productive to working together for the citizens of Raleigh."

Shanahan introduced the resolution to calm what he called "the panic" that erupted when Meeker suggested delaying some sections of the Outer Loop.

Shanahan called the resolution his attempt at damage control, and said that he does not want anything the mayor says or does to prevent the partially-completed Interstate 540 from becoming a complete loop.

"I think when the mayor suggested we not complete the Outer Loop it caused a bit of panic in the area," he said.

The resolution calls for the completion of I-540, and states that city staff cannot spend any time or resources to promote any alternatives to completion. The resolution requires the same of Raleigh's mayor.

The issue over the Outer Loop could be a non-issue when it comes to the federal money it takes to build the road. A decision is expected soon on whether local governments in the Triangle can use the money for anything other than the loop.

If they cannot, construction will likely move ahead on I-540 as planned.