Fury over 540 directed toward NC DOT

WAKE COUNTY The North Carolina Department of Transportation's public comment period on the project will be officially coming to a close on Friday, but they say they still want to hear from the public.

For several weeks now, the DOT has been getting an earful from hundreds of residents who say they are worried about some of the possible paths under consideration for the southern extension of 540.

"The public is doing just exactly what we want them to do," NC Turnpike Authority Chief Engineer Steve DeWitt said. "We want them to give us their opinion on where the road should go, where it shouldn't how it impacts them."

Dewitt says back in the mid-90s the DOT did a feasibility study that led them to designate the orange line option as a "protected corridor" for the extension.

"It was based on engineering determinations of alignment, both horizontal and vertical, looking at homes, communities, wetlands and streams," he said.

However because the study was not done under the National Environmental Policy Act, officials will have to review the plans.

"We've had to go back and look at some other alignments other than just the protected corridor," DeWitt said. "We've had to what we've determined to be reasonable; feasible other alignments that might make sense to put the road through."

There are currently nine possibilities and some are generating more outrage than others. The DOT says the protected corridor is favored by 85 to 90 percent of residents they've heard from.

Dewitt says the protected corridor is a strong candidate and they hope to narrow the list of options down by the end of the year.

"We are ready to make some decisions," he said. "We are ready to move into the process of removing some of those corridors from study."

The DOT says once it narrows the list down to two or three possibilities, it will spend another year or so studying the impact of each one.

In the meantime, they say they want to keep hearing from the public as they move forward.

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