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With Red Route Back On The Table, 540 Planning Goes To Public

The NCDOT is showing color coded routes under consideration for the 540 extension from Holly Springs to Knightdale.

The state DOT is bringing options for an extension to the Triangle Expressway back to the public for debate. 

A series of meetings starts Monday afternoon at Wake Technical Community College to show residents of southern Wake County the possible routes for 540 from Holly Springs to Knightdale. 

The project is restarting after the General Assembly repealed a law that eliminated an unpopular route from consideration.  Residents of Garner had pushed for getting rid of the so-called Red Route proposal because it would displace several businesses and neighborhoods.  But the federal government said it would not fund the extension unless all options were on the table.

"Some of the alternatives can be connected to each other, and if you add those alternatives up, there are about 17 unique combinations that NCDOT is recommending that we consider further," says DOT engineer Eric Midkiff, who is overseeing the 540 extension.

Meanwhile, environmentalists say an option called the Orange Route would disrupt fragile wetlands. Midkiff says there are alternatives that go farther south around Garner and the surrounding wetlands.

"A revision looks like it may have less wetland impacts than the Orange, but until we can go out there and really start conducting studies in the field, we really won't know for sure exactly what the impacts are for each of those," he says.

Midkiff says it will take most of the next year to conduct an environmental impact report. Meetings continue Tuesday at Barwell Road Community Center and Wednesday at Holly Springs High School. All meetings start at 4 p.m.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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