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Raleigh Regional Chamber Pushing for Outer Loop

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RALEIGH — Driving in the Triangle can be a real headache sometimes. Now, the Raleigh Regional Chamber of Commerce says one way to ease the problem would be to complete construction of the Outer Loop, also known as the Wake Expressway, and is trying to gather support in the legislature to do just that.

Since February, the regional chamber has had signs posted all over the Triangle, asking people to call a special phone number if they're fed up with the area's traffic problems.

The phone bank got an admirable response -- close to 2,000 people in all, and a good number of those people agreed to sign petitions. Hundreds of those petitions were delivered to the legislature Thursday morning.

"I will deliver this to the transportation committee," said Rep. Jane Moseley (D-Wake County) upon being presented with the petitions. "It's very important that we do something about traffic congestion in the Triangle and in the Raleigh area with this many people coming into our area."

The regional gathered the petitions to drum up support for new roads in Wake County, specifically, the southern portion of the Outer Loop, that supporters say will ease the county's traffic flow.

The chamber says it has the support of all the members of the Wake County delegation in the House, but the chamber admits it has a long battle to fund the work.

That portion of the outer loop will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and legislators will have to balance that demand with all their other funding requests.

"We would like to see the southern portion of the loop on the transportation improvement program, the TIP, when it comes back up for reauthorization which is next year," said Jim Cain, a spokesperson for the chamber. "That would then begin the process for funding and construction."

Getting funding for the southern portion of the loop could be a real uphill battle. A recent audit of the North Carolina Department of Transportation showed that projects already in the TIP for the next six years will take 26 years to complete at existing funding levels.