Frustrated residents voice concerns at 540 expansion forum

Frustrated residents voice concerns at 540 expansion forum

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Monday evening, hundreds of concerned home and business owners from Apex to Knightdale packed two large conference rooms on the campus of Wake Tech Community College. Monday evening, hundreds of concerned home and business owners from Apex to Knightdale packed two large conference rooms on the campus of Wake Tech Community College.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is moving forward with its plans to complete the 540 Outerloop around the greater Raleigh area, but before officials go any further, they want the input of the estimated 52,000 residents who could be affected.

Monday evening, hundreds of concerned home and business owners from Apex to Knightdale packed two large conference rooms on the campus of Wake Tech Community College.

The NCDOT sponsored the event, which featured an informational video of the Complete 540 project, as well as enlarged maps detailing in different bright colors where the proposed routes would go.

NCDOT representatives also were standing by to answer questions and patiently listen to residents' concerns.

"It could eliminate some traffic, but I'm just hoping it's not my area to be honest," Garner resident Linda McNelty said as she stood next to a long table covered in maps. "I don't want to be selfish, but I'm just hoping it's not going to be my area."

The northern section of the 540 Outer Loop is I-540, running from I-40 in Durham County to US 64/US 264 Bypass in Wake County. At issue now is the southern section, called the "Triangle Expressway."

So far, the NCDOT has only built a portion of the Expressway, beginning at I-40 in Durham County and ending at the NC 55 Bypass in Apex.

NCDOT officials say they have seen continued growth in ridership and received positive feedback from drivers who are now able to save 20 to 30 minutes on their commutes.

But confusion remains on the expansion because the different routes have changed multiple times over the years after federal government input, environmental surveys and continuing studies.

"We're going to spend a lot of money that the government doesn't have to study something that makes absolutely no sense," Russ Owen said. The "Red Route," which crosses the land between Lake Wheeler and Lake Benson, would affect his home in Garner.

"Traffic-wise, it makes no sense to build the ‘Red Route' because it's north of the Clayton bypass, which is always backed up," Owen added.

Outside the building, Nikki Shifs took a break from the crowded event with her husband, stepson and friend.

"The 'Blue Route' goes right through my property," Nikki Shifs said as her husband pointed out their house shaded in blue on a map on his cell phone.

"But I'd much rather have it go through my house than next to it," Shifs added. "Several of my friends are in that position.

"It'll ruin the value of their homes when everyone else moves away," Shifs said. "Not to mention, they'll have the noise from the traffic."

Regardless of the route chosen, the end result will be the state's first modern toll road, opening in 2022. Construction is set to begin in 2018.

The NCDOT will host two more informational sessions:

  • Tuesday 10/15 at Barwell Road Community Center
    3935 Barwell Road, Raleigh, N.C.
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday 10/16 at Holly Springs High School
    5329 Cass Holt Road, Holly Springs, N.C.
    6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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Sean Maroney

Sean anchors WNCN News at 6, 7 & 11 PM. Raised in North Carolina, he returns home after nearly a decade reporting around the world. Each night, he brings his love of this community and powerful journalism into our newsroom and your home.

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