In a motion made by Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears, members of the Transportation Advisory Committee took action last week in response to federal agencies denying their support and funding to complete the Triangle Expressway 540 loop around Wake County.
The Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently said that, in essence, unless the state statute banning the study of the red route through Garner is lifted, “we will go no further,” Sears said. The red route passes through churches and developments and bisects Garner. Another route that travels south of Garner was proposed for the highway, along with other alternates along that route. But the federal government wants to have the red route studied also.
“We want to get the thing back on track,” Sears said about the Triangle Expressway project.
His motion was to request the state legislature to repeal its bill and enable study of the red route, allowing for federal funding for the project.
Sears said the motion was aimed “so we can get on with the study, even though (the red route) won’t be built and (studying the red route) is a waste of money.”
Sears said he thought the state legislature would vote on the issue in January or sooner.
“And I think that will go through,” he said.
Sears’ motion at the committee meeting was opposed by two votes on the group with more than a dozen voting members from a tri-county area.
“The objection came from Garner who felt their folks would be upset it’s even being studied,” Sears said. “I would say, ‘Look folks, we’ve got to study it. We’re not going to build it.’
“(The federal agencies) seem to be locked into a line in the sand that we’re going to study the red route or we’re not going to do anything.”
If the state bill is repealed and the study of expressway routes moves forward, the NC DOT would conduct the study at the request of the federal government, Sears said. The DOT would present its study to the federal agencies.
“After they see more information on the red route, I would be totally surprised if they would recommend the red route,” Sears said.
Sears said 540 will benefit communities throughout the area, especially as the population grows.
“If you look at only yesterday and today, we could live without it,” Sears said of the expressway. “But, if you look at the populations in these areas, there will be a time and a place in the very near future where someone will say, ‘I wish we built this road when we had a chance because we can’t get anywhere.’ Traffic that is going to be generated by growth in Wake County is going to cause significant issues on travel time.”