Traffic

Red route elimination paves way for Garner center

Posted July 18, 2011 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 18, 2011 7:00 p.m. EDT

— The Town of Garner broke ground Monday on a center to help treat troubled youth that is expected to create 250 new jobs.

Strategic Behavioral Health's $12 million center is located at 3200 Waterfield Road, in the path once proposed for the southeast extension of N.C. Highway 540.

After uproar from Garner residents, legislators in March blocked the state Department of Transportation from considering the so-called “red route.” The southeast portion of N.C. 540 extends the Triangle Expressway toll road and completes the loop highway.

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said the Memphis, Tenn.-based company was originally scared away by the red route but changed its mind when the route was eliminated.

"We are where we are today because we got rid of the red route. I love it when a plan comes together," Williams said.

Toll road planners are still trying to determine where they can construct the southeast portion of N.C. 540.

The so-called "orange route, which runs south of the red route, was an option for a while, but an endangered species of mussels was discovered in a creek along the route. Federal law said road planners must offer an alternative that won't hurt the mussels.

State officials said finding a new route could take years. 

The Triangle Expressway will run from existing N.C. Highway 540 in western Wake County south of Interstate 40 to the N.C. Highway 55 Bypass in Holly Springs.