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Lawmakers Moving To Revive Study Of Red Route For 540 Loop

State lawmakers in the Senate have tentatively passed abill that would revive a federal study of a proposed section of the 540 Outer Loop highway across Wake County. Back in 2011, Garner residents convinced lawmakers to pass a bill that banned studying what's called the Red Route. It's a proposed part of the Outer Loop that would have required bulldozing parks and neighborhoods in Garner. Local leaders favor what's known as the Orange Route, but that would extend through wetlands that are home to an endangered mollusk. Federal officials won't consider that option without a full study comparing it to the Red Route. Republican Senator Neal Hunt is from Raleigh.

"We're in the unfortunate situation that's been described that the federal government requires this route be studied. There's no question that it ain't going to be built, nobody wants to build it, but it's gotta be studied. And if we want this 540 loop to be done in Wake County, then we need to go ahead and study the Red Route," says Hunt.

Hunt says the mayor of Garner is a friend who supports studying the Red Route, though he doesn't want it to be built.

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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