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Gastonia City Council waffles on Garden Parkway

The Gastonia City Council was expected to pass a formal resolution opposing the controversial Garden Parkway last night. But the announcement never came.

Over the weekend, members of Gastonia City Council began to talk about the prospects of the controversial toll road and offer alternatives.

“I think it’s dead,” said Gastonia City Manager Jim Palenick.

Palenick, with other Council members, put together alternative plans for the annual $35 million in gap funding that is allocated within the state budget for the Garden Parkway.

The alternative plan includes: completion of I-485 in Mecklenburg County, a drastic overhaul of the existing US 321/I-85 interchange, extending Hudson Blvd. west beyond US 321, and establishing commuter rail between Gastonia and Charlotte.

Palenick says that he would approach leaders in the Charlotte region with the plan and hopes that both communities can promote the idea as a region.

"We recognize your biggest problem," said Palenick. "How about if we help you solve it and in turn you help us solve some problems? If we join forces, maybe people will listen to us. Maybe the legislature will make a farsighted visionary approach to this."

But the General Assembly controls where and how that gap funding is allocated, and fears that the General Assembly would not agree with the alternative helped to shelve the resolution, for now.

Story Links:
Gastonia council expresses doubt over 'Garden Parkway', offers alternative ---Gaston Gazette
Gastonia leaders hold back on formally supporting Garden Parkway alternative ---Gaston Gazette
Gaston officials reject Garden Parkway ---WFAE-FM
E-mail: Parkway News - Highest Priority - Call to Action Tuesday, 6pm (Dec 15) - Stop The Toll Road

Commentary:
Opponents of the Parkway were optimistic going into Tuesday's meeting; and if the resolution against the highway passed, it would have been a serious blow to the Garden Parkway's chances.

However, though they were optimistic, the opponents feared that Parkway supporters would "...turn the screws on them." And well, their fears came to fruition. A member of the NCTA Board of Directors who was in attendance at the meeting mentioned how the General Assembly would most likely not re-allocate the funds into the alternative plans.

Bob Spencer, the NCTA board member, said that members of the General Assembly may take the alternative plan suggestion as a slight and did not personally think the alternative plan would be successful.

Nothing like holding $35 million in transportation funding over someone's head to push through a highway that continues to lose support with the local community.

It'll be interesting to see how this political game plays out in 2010.

Comments

Matt in CLT said…
I still think the Garden Parkway is an asinine idea. I like the idea of instead upgrading the 321 interchange. That is a project which would be worth every dime...and given the development in the close proximity of the interchange, a nice piece of engineering.

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