The ultimate choice will likely be controversial, with residents of Garner and Holly Springs actively campaigning against two of the routes.
When the last section of the Outer Loop is finished, the toll road will be a bypass all the way around the southern edge of the greater Raleigh area - including linking I-40 west of Raleigh back to I-40 east of Garner.
The preferred route for the DOT for nearly two decades is the so-called Orange Route which would take the highway north of Holly Springs and well south of Garner. But when the endangered dwarf wedgemussel was found along that route, the federal government told the state to look for a way around it.
Now, a total of 17 possible routes are on the table, including the so-called Purple Route which would take the road through the eastern tip of Holly Springs. Residents there aren't too happy about that.
Garner's leaders are also saying they don't want the highway coming through town on the so-called Red Route.
In 2011, Garner got backing from the General Assembly when it passed legislation blocking that route. But then the federal Department of Transportation said it wouldn't make funding for the road available unless the Red Route was considered.
This summer, the General Assembly reversed course and repealed that law.
Now, the public gets its say. The NCDOT is planning three public meetings:
Mon., Oct. 14, 2013, 4 - 7 p.m.
Wake Tech Community College
9101 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh, NC 27603
Tues., Oct. 15, 2013, 4 - 7 p.m.
Barwell Road Community Center
3935 Barwell Road
Raleigh, NC 27610
Wed., Oct. 16, 2013, 6 - 9 p.m.
Holly Springs High School
5329 Cass Holt Road
Holly Springs, NC 27540
For more information on Complete 540, visit www.ncdot.gov/complete540.
Whatever path the DOT chooses, it plans to begin construction in 2018, with traffic flowing in 2022.