The North Carolina Department of Transportation is considering 17 alternative routes to complete construction on the I-540 beltway around Raleigh.
Project Manager Eric Midkiff says that's down from hundreds of options the North Carolina Department of Transportation has already considered.
In the 1990s, the DOT established a likely location for the roadway. The so-called Orange Route was protected from development in anticipation of the 540 loop.
But there are streams and wetlands along that route. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that major projects offer alternatives. NEPA also obligates NCDOT to complete environmental impact statements for each of the route.
“When you have that many alternatives, there are a number of people located within the paths of those alternatives,” Midkiff says. “So, there's a lot of anxiety, there's a lot of unknown concerning where the route's going to be, and how their homes and businesses are going to be impacted. And the department is certainly sensitive to those concerns.”
Midkiff says the department is now doing field work to collect data about each potential route. NCDOT will release environmental impact statements for each alternative by Spring 2015 and open them for public comment. They'll settle on a route in the fall of that year.
Midkiff says that's actually a pretty short timeline for a major roadway project.