A Gastonia Republican filed a bill in the General Assembly Wednesday that would stop all funding and planning for the Garden Parkway, a proposed toll road through south Gaston County.
State Rep. Dana Bumgardner’s bill would require that the N.C. Department of Transportation stop spending money on the 22-mile roll road, which would add a new bridge across the Catawba River. The project has been estimated to cost $800 million.
Bumgardner said his bill (HB 134) would save tax dollars and preserve “people’s private properties from a pointless road.”
The parkway is one of the most controversial highway projects in the state.
Critics have said that it will do little to relieve congestion on Interstate 85 in Gaston. They also contend that it will damage the environment.
The Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill has sued to stop the road’s construction, contending that the federally required Environmental Impact Statement was flawed. The law center has successfully sued to stop construction – for now – of the Charlotte area’s other toll road, the Monroe Connector-Bypass.
Former N.C. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti was a strong supporter of the Monroe toll road, though Conti was less enthusiastic about the Gaston project. Last year he said the state would postpone seeking needed state and federal environmental permits because of the pending litigation.
It’s unclear how Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration feel about the Garden Parkway.
A number of business leaders in Gaston County support the highway, saying it will improve connections to Charlotte and bolster the local economy.