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Owen Drive Project May Threaten Family's Home

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FAYETTEVILLE — TheN.C. Department of Transportationis drawing up new plans for one of Cumberland County's biggest road projects -- but one family's house may stand in the way.

The Owen Drive Extension Project started in 1992, but concerns over wetlands caused the Army Corps of Engineers to strike down the plan three times. The DOT went back to the drawing board with three new alternative routes.

The first two proposals would extend Owen Drive east of the Civic Center to East Mountain Drive. The third widens Wilkes Road.

The goal of the extension is to provide a faster route from Interstate 95 to the All American Freeway and Bragg Boulevard, leading into the Crown Coliseum's entrance. Once it is finished, it will be considered the southern gateway into Fayetteville and Fort Bragg.

Fayetteville business leaders say the extension is needed, but Bucky Pierson's home is in the way. The house is in the path of one proposed route, meaning the Piersons may have to pack up and leave.

"We may lose what we've got here to start with. I mean, you don't want to lose your home over some kind of road for the auditorium," Pierson said.

Highway planners think the new proposals are headed in the right direction.

"We feel real good about what we're doing. We're positive we're on the right track," said project engineer Derrick Weaver.

If the track does run through his property, Pierson says he will not give up without a fight.

"My family has been wronged big time," he said. "I'm not the one to give up on it. I'm not going to give up on it."

The DOT says it is still in the very early stages of the project. After closer consideration, Pierson's property may not be impacted -- but if it is, the DOT says the family will be compensated.

A final decision will not be made until early next year, and construction would not begin until 2005.


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