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Road Projects Threaten Fayetteville Wetlands

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FAYETTEVILLE — Two of Cumberland County's most important road projects are now in jeopardy.

The Fayetteville outer loop and the Owen Drive extension were supposed to create the quickest easiest routes to and fromFayetteville,Fort Bragg and Interstate 95. But because theDepartment of Transportationdid not take into consideration the wetlands in the area, those projects may never be finished.

Construction on the north end of Fayetteville's outer loop began in July. But construction on the south end may never start. The Army Corps of Engineers says the proposed southern routes destroy too many wetlands and an alternative may have to be found.

Gene Taylor, a Cumberland County resident, is not happy with the way the process is being done. He says he has mixed emotions over the project. "You mentioned wetlands. Should that not have been considered way before?" Taylor asks.

Seven years ago, hundreds of residents in the county's west end were told they would probably have to give up their property to make way for the south end of the outer loop.

Now they're being told the south end may never be built. Residents compare the situation to being held hostage.

"When I see this, I have mixed emotions about being hostage for this length of time," Taylor said. "Part of me is glad that maybe they'll take another look and relocate."

The Owen Drive extension, the county's other major road project, was supposed to be built in Fayetteville and serve as the grand entrance to the Crown Coliseum, but wetlands threaten this project as well.

The Army Corps of Engineers will soon make a decision on the extension. City and county leaders say it will be a huge blow if the project is denied.

David Jameson, a member of Fayetteville's Chamber of Commerce, says traffic should be able to flow better in the area.

"It will be a new entry into Fayetteville," Jameson said. "Secondly, it serves as a front door to the new Crown Coliseum, and we want to make travel in and out of there as easy as we possibly can."

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John McDonnell, Reporter
Doug Bricker, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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