WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce wants to bypass a state highway decision that leaves the Northern Beltway far short of completion.
The long proposed highway that would create a loop around the city has been delayed by litigation for many years.
Chamber president Gayle Anderson was hopeful that this was the year the roadway would get the full support of the state. She was disappointed by a May report that only earmarks a fraction of the money needed to complete the beltway. The report considers the highway a regional need and not a state one even though part of the road will eventually be Interstate 74.
“I think there needs to be a commitment made this year to fund that road,” said Anderson.
Anderson said other cities with similar projects have used the money that was once designated for the Northern Beltway while landowners and the state squabbled over an environmental assessment.
“Instead of coming back and restoring our funds they have gone elsewhere and they're telling us our road is too expensive to do now,” said Anderson.
The estimated $1 billion cost of the project will only grow the longer it’s stretched out. Plus, Anderson said waiting for regional highway funding money to pay for the beltway piece by piece delays the economic benefits of the project.
“It means that we will not be able to create the more than 30,000 jobs that will come if that entire piece of the Interstate is finished, not just in Forsyth County but Guilford County and all along North Carolina,” said Anderson. “We are putting jobs at risk.”
Anderson said the Chamber will lean on the governor’s office and state elected leaders to change the decision to limit the amount of money for the Northern Beltway.
“We don't really care how they do it but we deserve to have our road funded now and not be pushed to the bottom of the line,” said Anderson.