Church standing its ground against I-540

WAKE COUNTY The I-540 southeast extension has sparked controversy.

Many residents are worried they could lose their homes and now a congregation fears it could be displaced as well.

Springfield Baptist Church is in the path of the southeast extension.

One proposed route known as the red corridor would cut through a third of the church's existing property, potentially demolishing its newest building and delaying its future plans for a community center and school.

"We're not trying just to protect Springfield, but in reality this is our property, this our spiritual home just like the homes of individuals that's their home," Springfield Baptist Church Rev. Daniel Sanders said.

Hundreds of complaints have forced the NC Turnpike Authority to eliminate other proposed corridors, but Turnpike officials have said the red route would save an endangered group of mussels.

"I know God created mussels, so I can't debate their need to survive, but I cannot see us ever putting anything over the priority of people's lives," Sanders said.

Lives that Reverend Sanders says would be devastated if their Civil War-era church is forced to close.

About 1,000 people attended a public meeting at the church Wednesday night to discuss the expansion.

"You don't know how hard it is, how difficult it is, and what impact it has on the lives of people to have an agency as strong and as powerful as the state of North Carolina come to you and tell you that your church, your property, your home could be lost or taken in the name of progress," Rev. Sanders said.

The Turnpike Authority says the feedback it's getting really does have an impact on its final decision, but that won't happen until mid-2012 at the earliest.

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