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Turnpike Authority narrows NC 540 Southeast Ext. options

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TWC News: Turnpike Authority narrows NC 540 Southeast Ext. options
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GARNER, N.C. -- The NC Turnpike Authority is narrowing the options for NC 540's Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension. It's the section of 540 that will complete the outer loop, connecting Apex to Knightdale.

The Turnpike Authority was considering four possible routes. Thursday, they eliminated the “blue” and “purple” options, going through Holly Springs.

That leaves the originally planned “orange” corridor, which was already protected for future development and the “red” route, which cuts through Garner neighborhoods.

“I love my home,” said Courtnay Borleske, who bought her home it in 2002. “It would obviously come right through our neighborhood and also right through my home,” she said. “The red route just doesn't make sense. I don't want to lose my home.”

“If this road goes through this neighborhood, it would decimate the entire neighborhood,” complained Gloria English, secretary of the neighborhood homeowners association. “This is a wonderful, quiet, peaceful neighborhood. People bought their homes out here in good faith, thinking they could live here and raise their children and now the Turnpike Authority is considering destroying this neighborhood.”

Engineers say the biggest issue with the original, protected route is they've found an endangered species, the dwarf wedgemussel, along Lake Benson and the Swift Creek Watershed.

“We've heard loud and clear from the Town of Garner as well as people who live throughout the area that the red one is a problem,” said NC Turnpike Authority Chief Engineer Steve DeWitt. “[The red route has] many more community impacts than we find in the orange corridor. But the dwarf wedgemussel is an issue. We've got to make sure we're dealing with that sensitivity and technical accuracy.”

Garner's mayor warns the red route would not only take away homes, it would also cut through a major commercial development.

“Endangered species are important, but so are people,” said Mayor Ronnie Williams. “The Greenfield properties, just east of I-40, we look at it as part of Garner's future. Butterball Corporation is there. Pergo Flooring is there. Domino's Pizza is there. Papa John's pizza is there. And there's plenty other affordable land.

Engineers with the Turnpike Authority say they dealt with the endangered dwarf wedgemussel while working on the Clayton Bypass project as well, so it doesn't automatically rule out the original, protected corridor.

They're continuing the evaluation process for the two remaining options.

They hope to select the final route within the next year.

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