Skip to main content

Feds give go ahead to the Garden Parkway

I apologize that I haven't blogged about this topic in awhile.

Last week, the Federal Highway Administration awarded a favorable 'Record of Decision' to the North Carolina Turnpike Authority for the route of the proposed Garden Parkway in Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties.  The decision is a blow to citizen group's that are opposed to the route.

Opposition groups will now focus on some of the environmental and financial hurdles the route still needs to clear.

The NCTA plans to finance the project from toll revenue, bond financing, and GARVEE funds.  But another key part of financing is approval from the state legislature of $17.5 million this year and then additional $35 million per year over the next 40 years.

The total cost of the 22 mile highway is $930 million.

The state plans to build the new toll road through two design-build projects.  The first design build project will build a four lane limited access highway from I-485 near Wilson Farm Roadin Mecklenburg County westward to US 321 south of Gastonia.  The second project will build a two-lane, known as a 'Super Two', limited access highway from US 321 north and westwards to Interstate 85 near Bessemer City.

Along the two lane section, the NCTA will purchase the right-of-way for four lanes with the intention to build the entire highway at a later date.  The Turnpike Authority hopes to begin construction in the Summer of 2013 and have the first segments of the highway open to traffic in 2015.

Tolls for highway are estimated at 15 cents per mile or about $3.30 for a one way trip.  Like the Triangle Expressway in Raleigh, all tolls will be collected electronically.

The NCTA has to await for all environmental permits to be approved.  Input and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and the NC Division of Water Quality is still needed for any construction to move forward.  Opponents of the highway are pointing to previous concerns by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers as important obstacles in their favor. 

There is no timetable on when any of the environmental permits or financing approval will occur.

Story Links:
NC Turnpike Authority receives final approval for Garden Parkway Route ---WBTV-TV
Garden Parkway clears key federal hurdle ---Gaston Gazette
Construction on Garden Parkway could start next year ---WSOC-TV
Garden Parkway Route Finalized, Toll Likely $.15/mile ---WFAE-FM

Commentary:
Unlike the I-95 project, I am against this toll road.  It is unnecessary - the real need is a US 321 bypass of Gastonia, which this project will not include.  Gaston County residents are against this toll road by a nearly 3:1 margin.  And it has become a political issue within the county.  State legislators are being asked if they are for or against the highway making it an issue in the primary and the general elections.

The Summer 2013 construction date by no means is set in stone.  First, state funding for the highway has been delayed as a result of budget cuts.  There is a possibility it will return in the 2012-2013 budget and/or future budgets.  Also, the prior concerns by the Army Corps of Engineers and other government environmental agencies could cause changes to the routing and even the cost of the project.  And of course, various groups like the Southern Environmental Law Center could file lawsuits.

Local groups like Stop The Toll Road have been fighting the project every step of the way.  I don't expect them to go down quietly either.

Whether opponents of toll roads like it or not, the toll idea within North Carolina is here to stay.  With numerous needs to maintain, repair, and replace existing roads and infrastructure and the demand to build new highways to keep up with an increasing population - there is only so much money to go around.  However, you can't just have a toll road just because you want to build a highway.  There has to be a legitimate need and the Garden Parkway isn't a legitimate need.  Especially not as a toll road. 



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville. 

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What is unknown (at least to…

The story of the Boy Scout Ramps on Interstate 79 North in NW Pennsylvania

If you are traveling on Interstate 79 North of Pittsburgh, you may notice the remnants of a set of off and on ramps at mile 100 just north of Exit 99 (US 422).  There's a story behind these ramps.  Forty years ago, these ramps were built specifically for two Boy Scout Jamboree's that were held at Moraine State Park - 1973 and 1977.  The ramps purpose were to provide access to the north shore of Lake Arthur where the bulk of the festivities and campsite for the Jamboree were located.  (Lawrence County Memories has a great write up and map of the festivities on its site.)

Not long after the Jamboree ended the ramps were abandoned.  There are still remnants of the Boy Scout Ramps today.



Above: Sattelite view of the Boy Scout Jamboree Ramps. 
Below: A view of the ramps from I-79 South.



The google street view image above gives a view along West Park Road of where the set of ramps intersected the highway.  The ramps provided direct access to North Shore Drive (which is the right tur…

The few clues of the Northern Durham Parkway

Sometimes when you look through a box of maps for the first time in five years, you come across something you may have easily over looked.  Such was the case when I found a 2004 (so rather recent) map of Raleigh.  This map was made by the Dolph Map Company for WakeMed.  In the Northwestern corner of Wake County, there were two items to the map showing roads that are still not in existence 13 years later.

The road is the Northern Durham Parkway - this is a proposed 19 mile highway from US 501 north of Durham to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.  The first proposals for this highway date back to 1967 when Eno Drive-Gorman Road was listed on the Durham Area Thoroughfare Plan. (1)  Other proposals called the highway the Northwest and Northeast Durham Loop. (2)  The route would serve as a northern and eastern bypass of Durham almost serving as a near loop.  The route was fought vigorously for three decades by the Eno River Association citing concerns for the the Eno River, nearby n…