540 could run through residents' backyards

road (AP)
September 24, 2010 5:48:44 PM PDT
The cost of growth could prove extremely costly for a Wake County neighborhood.

People who live in one Holly Springs neighborhood say they just found out the new section of the 540 Triangle Expressway could go through their backyards.

Click here for a map of the original path of the expressway (.pdf)

Click here for maps of proposed alternative routes

Hundreds of people in Sunset Oaks could either lose their home or watch their property value plummet.

They say for almost 20 years, there's been one set path they believed the highway would take, and people have planned their homes, their communities, and their lives around those plans. But two weeks ago, they discovered planners might shift the path.

"This is like our family and it would split our family up," resident Katrina Ray said. "Some of these houses would be completely gone."

That is, if the Department of Transportation settles on what's called the "purple line" for the Triangle Expressway (see map 1 of 3 in links above.)

"They're talking about swinging it out to access more people, Fuquay, Clayton and that area, but it's going to have a major adverse effect on the environment, people's home values, it will be exponentially damaging," resident Erin Slaton said.

Slaton says Sunset Oaks residents got fliers from the state telling them that the old plan, the orange line, may be changed and the road may literally be built through their backyards.

"Thousands of homeowners have been blindsided which is nothing less than negligent, by the state of North Carolina," Slaton said.

Slaton, a Wake County real estate agent, says her home would lose $100,000 in value minimum, if it's not torn down completely to make room for the road.

She and other residents say they hope that the state will stay the course with the original plan.

"I would be devastated to see any of our neighbors lose their backyards, their homes, the sense of community that we have here," Ray said.

The families in Sunset Oaks say they expect an update from the state in November, but they are already considering a class action lawsuit if the Triangle Expressway is built through their neighborhood.

But the DOT says the final path of the highway is not set in stone.

Chief Engineer Steve Dewitt with the Turnpike Authority says public input is part of the process - and will help steer the project to the final selection

"We're doing this because it's required by fed law," he explained. "Public comment is a huge factor in where a road goes."

The DOT says several options are on the table.

"It very much is a work in progress we are early in the process. We are early in the process there is plenty of time for adjustments to be made for alternatives to be picked out and set aside," said Dewitt.

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