HENDERSON, N.C. — A new highway in Vance County is driving Raleigh's mayor to distraction.
The $8.3 million Western Henderson Loop, which opened this week, slices through the rural countryside for two and a half miles. The area lobbied for the four-lane divided highway for 12 years before getting it built, and local officials said they now will start pushing the state to fund northern and southern extensions to the road.
"I think it's great. It takes a lot of traffic off of our main thruway here through Henderson," driver Annie Gregory said.
"We need some growth around here and development because this is kind of a poor town and the unemployment rate is high. We definitely need something in this area, and I think this road is going to help," driver Andrew Hawley said.
But the highway strikes a nerve with Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, who said the state Department of Transportation should allocate its road-building money better.
"This goes to the heart of the problem. It shows what's going on on the ground, and that is money is being spent in areas where there's very little traffic while urban areas like Raleigh have lots of traffic, yet we don't get any funding from the North Carolina DOT," Meeker said.
The Raleigh City Council this week asked for an audit of the state highway funding formula, which currently allocates no money for improvements to clogged Raleigh roads like Capital Boulevard.
"The highway funding formula, the way it's being applied, simply isn't fair," Meeker said.
DOT officials said it was time to spread some money to an area that hasn't seen state funding in a long time.