Two Wake senators have filed legislation to block the N.C. Turnpike Authority from doing what it says it doesn't want to do anyway: build a new turnpike through the town of Garner.
Senate Bill 165 proposes that the planned Triangle Expressway Southeast Extension "shall not be located north of an existing protected corridor established by the Department of Transportation circa 1995, except in the area of Interstate 40 East."
That means nothing north of a widely favored path known as the Orange Route, which would take TriEx well south of Garner to extend the turnpike across southern Wake County from Holly Springs to Interstate 40 near the Johnston County line.
The bill was introduced by Sens. Richard Stevens, a Cary Republican, and Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, at the request of Garner officials. They're trying to force the Turnpike Authority to stop considering an alternate route that would bulldoze lots of houses, parks, businesses and churches by cutting north of the Orange Route and running through the middle of Garner.
Turnpike officials say they have no intention of building the Red Route. They intend to cancel the project if environmental regulators block the Orange Route, which runs through sensitive wetlands and the habitat of an endangered mussel.
But they say that under federal environmental laws they don't have a chance of persuading regulators to accept the Orange Route unless they continue studying the Red Route option -- to show how it would cause more economic and human harm than the Orange Route.
“The process requires that we look at viable alternatives,” David Joyner, the turnpike authority’s executive director, said today.