Judge issues rulings on two Charlotte-area road projects

Decisions this week in federal court impact construction of the Monroe Bypass toll road through rural areas along U.S. 74 and the proposed Garden Parkway. (© Chita Middleton)

Decisions came down this week for two cases concerning North Carolina road projects—the Garden Parkway and the Monroe Bypass.

The Garden Parkway ruling from Federal Judge James Dever III reinforced his earlier decision that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) used improper growth projections in justifying the 22-mile highway. The state’s Environmental Impact Statement claimed that there would be almost no indirect environmental impacts because of the report’s fundamental assumption that highways do not lead to growth. This statement directly contradicts NCDOT’s own public messaging that the project will bring growth and development to the region. SELC represented the Catawba Riverkeeper in opposing the construction.

The $930 million project is now effectively on hold as a result of this ruling and its poor performance in the state’s new ranking system for road work.

The second ruling issued today by the same judge took the opposite stance and allowed work on the controversial Monroe Bypass to continue. SELC represented the Yadkin Riverkeeper in this case.

Even though NCDOT’s own data show that building the 20-mile toll road will result in no improvement to existing levels of local traffic congestion, the transportation agency remains intent on constructing the unneeded highway. Those able to afford the toll and use the bypass would save just 8-12 minutes. Taxpayers will spend $100 million for every minute of time saved and NCDOT has not evaluated cheaper alternatives to improve existing roadways  

“We are pleased with the ruling rejecting NCDOT’s assessments on the proposed Garden Parkway and we are disappointed in the ruling with regard to the Monroe Bypass,” said Attorney Kym Hunter. “We are currently discussing an appeal of that case to the Fourth Circuit with our clients.”


Read the Charlotte Observer’s coverage of the rulings here.    

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