Community weighs in at public hearing on plans to extend Route 540

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The North Carolina Department of Transportation held a public hearing Wednesday on the various proposals to extend Route 540.

The project would complete the 540 loop between Apex and Cary to Raleigh.

The new 30 mile-stretch of 540 would include toll roads.

NCDOT says the project will be completed in three phases of constructions, but they first have to decide on what route to use to complete the loop.

“Instead of looking at beautiful homes and children running around playing in the cul-de-sac, I’m going to be looking at a six-lane highway,” said Darlene Kinsey. Under one of the proposals, homes across the street from her would be demolished to make way for 540. At one time, her home could have been directly impacted. “Honestly, I don’t know which is worse, to lose my home or to watch the value plummet.”

There are multiple proposed routes, the most popular route, or the one that Garner, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina prefer, was proposed in the 1990s.

Keith Phillippe says he’s fine with the state moving forward with the project even though his home would be impacted.

“I hate to lose my home, but it’s needed,” said Phillippe. He moved to a more rural area several years ago and began renting his home out while he waited for the state to make a decision. “I’m pretty progressive. I said, yeah, it’s needed.”

NCDOT officials say they’re factoring in the number of homes and businesses that would need to be relocated as part of the decision-making process.

“Each one of the (alternatives) has its advantages and disadvantages. Some hit more homes and businesses,” said Ginny Inman, an NCDOT spokeswoman. She said the agency will offer “high-market value” to the people affected. “So, we’ll work with the homeowners to make sure that we can get everything secured correctly.”

The number of homes and businesses that would need to be relocated under the 17 alternatives varies from 243 to 569. Right-of-way and relocation costs range from $280 million to $543 million depending on the plan that’s chosen.

NCDOT officials say they will consider public input as well as environmental impact the construction would have on nearby neighborhoods.

“We had to do environmental impact studies on all those different routes. Once we pick one, we’ll have to go back and do an environmental impact study again,” said Steve Abbott, of NCDOT.

NCDOT officials hope to pick a route in the spring of 2016 with construction beginning in 2018.

To see the various routes, click here: (Link: http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/complete540/ )

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