PARKWAY PROJECT POSES PICKLE
A study by economist and UNC-Charlotte prof John Connaughton says the planned $1B Garden Parkway connecting Charlotte to Gaston County could create as many as 18k new jobs over 25 years. Problems: First, it will be a toll road that's expected to cost as much as $5.50 for its full length. Further, the GOP-controlled NC Senate drafted a bill to reallocate the state's share of the funding (about $35M per year for 40 years) to other road projects. The project will displace about 350 homes and 40 businesses. At the moment, high-volume access to Gaston County now is only possible via I-85 and NC 74. Proponents say adding the 22-mile road would improve travel times, reduce congestion on the interstates, and increase Gaston?s tax base. Bill Toole, a city councilman in Gaston County?s Belmont community, has been one of the more vocal opponents. He tells us the road could actually drive jobs to South Carolina, as well as increase traffic congestion on nearby I-85. Still, a contract could come before year end, when the N. Turnpike Authority expects to receive final approval from the Federal Highway Administration. The road is slated for completion in 2015.