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Interstate-540 extension back on the table for review

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TWC News: Interstate-540 extension back on the table for review
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GARNER — As the session gets under way this week lawmakers put a controversial idea for the town of Garner back on the table.

Lawmakers filed a bill to repeal the option of the Red Route for the Southeast extension of NC Interstate 540.

Garner residents Bruce and Martha Whitmans' Brookwood backyard has offered a nice place of escape for close to thirty years. Birds chirping are usually the only sounds people hear but that could soon change to the tune of a busy highway.

The Red Route would cut through 14 Garner neighborhoods and industrial areas. Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams called the idea devastating to the town's progression.

"Nothing happened because there was fear that you might be disrupted by the red route, our progress and economic development came to a standstill as long as that bill was active," said Williams.

Two years ago, lawmakers approved a measure to protect the town from being included in a study by the Department of Transportation.

For residents like the Whitmans it was a much needed relief.

"I got my life back," said Martha Whitman.

On Wednesday, Republicans Paul Stam and Nelson Dollar filed a bill to allow the DOT to include the red route in its study. While Mayor Williams said he agrees a road needs to be built, the Red Route is not the road that should be traveled.

"We felt like we were being attacked and I heard Skip Stam say he loves Garner, as long as we're loved we can get through this," he said.

For the Whitmans, it is a nightmare they don't want to relive.

"I feel violated because you  know we pay our taxes, we work hard, and now we have a possibility where they're going to plow through our house and take it away from us and force us into a house we don't want," said Bruce Whitman.

If the bill is approved, the research process could take up to a year and a half to finish.

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