Skip to main content

Garden Parkway Opponents Compare Gaston Toll Road to Greenville SC's Southern Connector

This is an interesting point that the opponents of the Garden Parkway are making. Does it carry any weight though?

Opponents of the Garden Parkway - the NCTA project that runs through southern and western Gaston County - are using a South Carolina Toll Road as an example of a 'sure thing' toll road that hasn't lived up to expectations and promises.

The troubled Southern Connector (aka Toll I-185) in Greenville, SC opened earlier this decade as a missing link in Greenville's transportation network. The highway afforded motorists the ability to bypass congestted areas of I-85 in the Greenville area.

However, the Southern Connector more often than not sits empty. In fact, vehicular traffic is half than expected, and unless debt refinancing takes place the whole project is scheduled to go into default this coming January. Currently, the roadway handles about 8,000 vehicles a day. Over the past few years, the Connector has been using its reserves to pay off debt.

Opponents of the Garden Parkway have been pointing to the struggling South Carolina Highway as an example of what they believe will be similar results for the North Carolina Toll Road. They see traffic projections and as a result revenues falling short causing the state to scrounge around to cover bad debts.

This, opponents say, is in addition to the annual $35 million the state will pay in 'gap funding' to build the Garden Parkway over the next 40 years. "If a toll road can't pay for itself - why build it?" seems to be the logic of those against the highway.

Supporters and NCTA officials obviously see otherwise. First, they point out to the differences in the size of the Greenville and Charlotte Metro Areas. Greenville's metro population is 625,000 which is significantly smaller than Charlotte's metro population which is about 1.7 million. They also point to more detailed studies and surveys supproting growth in the Charlotte area and specifically Gaston County.

Finally, the NCTA points out that since some of the financing for North Carolina Toll Projects, including the Garden Parkway, are backed by tax dollars - the tolls don't have to cover all the bills.

Story Links:
Millions already spent on parkway ---Gaston Gazette
Public might not warm to toll roads ---Mooresville Tribune


This is an interesting point - and the financial struggles of the Southern Connector makes it more so. With doubt statewide on the ability to finance the toll roads- let along the viability and need for some of these highways - arguments like this one have a lot of validity.

The Garden Parkway has had a controversial history - and throw in a bridge over the Catawba River - an expensive one too. Original plans for the highway carried the road north of I-85 to connecting with US 321 between Dallas and Lincolnton - effectively a US 321 bypass. However, the section north of I-85 seems to have been removed from any plans.

As Gaston County grows, Interstate 85 will only become more gridlocked. But with I-485, along with most of the county's close proximity to this road, travel to the airport and various points around Metro Charlotte is not that difficult.

The truth of the matter is that a US 321 Gastonia bypass (which doesn't need to be tolled) is more needed than a Southern Gaston County Freeway that runs to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Espescially one that will be tolled and parallel to Interstate 85 five to eight miles further south.


Brian said…
The fact is that any road that won't serve much of a purpose shouldn't be built, especially ones financed by bonds.
I didn't realize that the Southern Connector was in that bad of shape financially, but then again, the few times I've passed it during my I-85 travels, I don't ever remember seeing a lot of folks getting onto it. Seems like piss-poor planning on SCDOT's part.
Anonymous said…
Great idea, lets not build the GP. At the very least, toll the Catawba River bridge to/from Mecklenburg County as the primary source of revenue. As if the road never gets built because of fears with the SoConn in Greenville County, Gastonian residents will choke in their own carbon monoxide stuck in a jam on I-85 and Wilkenson Boulevard. There are no viable east-west roads in southern Gaston County. Folks who live by the state line in Clover and Lake Wylie are left with limited choices with either NC/SC 49 or NC 273 (or backtrack to I-77 even). Dont be a bunch of NIMBYs. The road may initially not do well but it will overtime. The SoConn connector did not make any sense since it did not go anywhere for most travelers. The GP on the other hand does for the local residents of southern Gaston Co and provides a good alternative for I-85 interregional travel and US 74 travel from Monroe to Shelby.
Sierra Roberts said…
Yeah I wish anonymous was brave enough to leave their name after such terrible comments. Gastonians will choke on their own carbon monoxide? If you were really environmentally concerned you would read the EPA's negative report on this proposed road. Also, the road will destroy much of the ecological habitation surrounding the southern Gaston County area, but I'm guessing they aren't trying to put a bulldozer through your property.

Popular posts from this blog

Old US 101; the San Juan Grade

While researching maps for California State Route 183 I noticed something interesting on the 1935 County Highway maps for San Benito and Monterey County.  From what it appeared it seems that there used to be a state highway running from US 101 south on San Juan Highway, through San Juan Bautista, south over the San Juan Grade to Salinas.  It turns out what I discovered was an a very old alignment of US 101 which was replaced by 1932.

The information relevant to the history of US 101 over the San Juan Grade is as follows:

-  The San Juan Grade was built in 1915 which presumably replaced Old Stage Road from Salinas to San Juan Bautista.  Presumably this was part of alignment adopted as Legislative Route 2 from San Francisco south to San Diego in 1909.  This history can be seen on 1931 edition of the California Highways and Public Works Journal and on

1931 Highways and Public Works Journal

CAhighways on LRN 2

-  By 1926 the San Juan Grade became part of US 101.  The San Jua…

The Tioga Pass Road

Last Summer the Tioga Pass Road over the Sierras in Yosemite National Park opened late due to the heavy snow pack during the previous winter.  Approaching the start of July the Park Service finally had cleared Tioga Pass, I headed up shortly after the 4th of July holiday during a lull in the tourist season.

The Tioga Pass Road runs from the Big Oak Flat Road east to US Route 395.  The Tioga Pass road is largely within the boundary of Yosemite National Park but is also partially on California State Route 120 east of the Tioga Pass entry station to US 395.  The Park Service maintained portion of the Tioga Pass Road serve as a implied connection between the two segments of CA 120.  The Tioga Pass Road is the highest road mountain pass in California with Tioga Pass which lies at 9,945 feet above sea level.

The Tioga Pass Road is very old with the eastern section up Lee Vining Canyon to the Tioga Mine being built in 1883.  The connecting section of the Tioga Pass Road from Big Oak Flat R…

California State Route 49, The Golden Chain Highway (CA 16 north over Yuba Pass to CA 89)

After completing California State Route 124 I took CA 16 to the eastern terminus to start my first Trans-Sierra route; California State Route 49/Golden Chain Highway over Yuba Pass.

As stated I joined CA 49 from the eastern terminus of CA 16 in Amador County.  CA 49 actually begins in Madera County to the south in Oakhurst at CA 41.  CA 49 is about 295 miles long and travels most of the traditional 1849 Gold Rush Country north from Oakhurst to CA 70.  If you want history and old towns then CA 49 is one of the best routes on the West Coast to see both.

To the north of CA 16 the next major junction is Signed County Route E16 in Plymouth which is on Shenandoah Road.  E16 is a 33.2 mile route which travels northeast to US 50. 

Plymouth dates back to the 1850s and is mostly known for a winery that dates back to 1856.  These photos are from Main Street looking west.

CA 49 generally is very rural and doesn't deviate much from when it was first signed back in 1934.  While CA 49 isn'…