The decision by Wake County commissioners to endorse the so-called Orange Route as part of the I-540 extension didn’t come as much of a surprise, but it was a welcome message. Most local governments have already endorsed the Orange Route as the preferred location for the important new road. It made sense that Wake commissioners would fall in line with the thinking of local government leaders in Garner, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs.
But the message sent by commissioners is one of unity. Everyone is on the same page. Now, if DOT can find that page and sign on, we’ll be ready to send the bulldozers out and start preparing roadbeds.
Of course, it’s not that simple. DOT has environmental studies to complete and consider. They have cost analyses to complete. There are a great many factors to consider. In the meantime, local leaders have come together and spoken with a single voice. That, too, should count for something in the DOT consideration process. In the General Assembly, there is an unwritten rule that non-controversial local bills can be adopted and passed into law quickly so long as the legislative delegation is in agreement. Legislative leaders typically look to their local governments for guidance on how they should vote in such matters. After all, a local measure typically impacts people only in a specific area. Others from around the state are not impacted at all.
In the case of the I-540 extension, while we realize the I stands for interstate, we see this largely as a local measure. To be sure, drivers from anywhere will be able to use the road, but it is most obviously an important road in our region for the transportation needs it meets and the potential it provides for future growth.
The commissioners endorsement also sends another important message to DOT: no one – at all – is pressing for the Red Route, which drew such venomous opposition when DOT initially recommended it as the preferred option.
It should not be too much longer now before DOT makes its recommendation. We hope that by adding their voices to the chorus of those in support of the Orange Route that the commissioners endorsement will tip the scales in Garner’s favor.