Raleigh - The N.C. Department of Transportation's Complete 540 project has moved another step forward, with the selection of "Detailed Study Alternative 2", better known as the Orange Route, as the preferred alternative for the project. That route, which going from west to east combines the proposed Orange, Green (southern portion), Mint and Green (northern portion) corridor segments, had been the recommended choice announced this earlier year.
That initial NCDOT recommendation was presented to federal, state, and local agencies in February, and the Department, in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, worked with those agency partners to reach the decision on the Preferred Alternative.
Alternative 2 was selected as the preferred choice because it:
Is formally supported by all local governments;
Minimizes the number of relocations of homes and businesses, compared to other alternatives;
Avoids impacts to the Swift Creek watershed critical area (a source for Raleigh's drinking water);
Avoids the Clemmons Educational State Forest;
Avoids impacts to historic resources; and
Minimally affects only one local park.
The selection of the Preferred Alternative was based on data from the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (including topics such as impacts on the environment, homes and businesses, parks, community facilities and historic sites, and cost), past public comments on the proposed alternatives, as well as those made during the public comment period that ran from Nov. 9, 2015 through Jan. 8, 2016.
The next step in the process will have the NCDOT working on additional studies that are required for the project to help minimize environmental and human impacts. Following their completion, the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision will conclude the environmental process. NCDOT expects to award the construction contract in phases, starting in fiscal year 2017.
Complete 540 will extend the Triangle Expressway from the N.C. 55 Bypass in Apex to the U.S. 64/U.S. 264 Bypass in Knightdale, completing the 540 Outer Loop around the greater Raleigh area. This will link the towns of Apex, Cary, Clayton, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Raleigh. By better connecting these towns and cities, the project is anticipated to ease existing and future congestion on area roads, including Interstate 440, I-40, N.C. 42, N.C. 55 and Ten Ten Road.
For more information about the project, visit the Complete 540 project webpage: www.ncdot.gov/projects/complete540/.