Environmental group trying to block completion of 540 loop in Wake County

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new legal challenge is attempting to block the construction of the southern loop of 540 around Wake County.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is hoping to convince a judge that the six-lane tollway would endanger streams, wetlands and two endangered species of freshwater mussels, according to our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer.

The environmental group has filed a petition challenging the state Division of Water Resources' approval of a water quality permit.

"The toll highway will result in devastating impacts to the natural and human environment," Kym Hunter, an attorney for the law center, said in a statement to the N&O. "And we are disappointed to see what amounts to a rubber-stamp approval of a project that deserves much greater scrutiny."

The NC Turnpike Authority has necessary state and federal approvals for the 28-mile stretch of highway from Holly Springs to Knightdale.

The agency hopes to have the first section of the southern loop open between Holly Springs and I-40 by early 2024.
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