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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Several dozen more Winston-Salem residents have joined a lawsuit against the state for its planned construction of the Northern Beltway.

Winston-Salem-based attorney Matthew Bryant confirms 51 to 53 additional plaintiffs have joined the original seven neighbors who filed against the state in 2011. That’s more than 20 additional people since July who say they want the state to immediately pay for their properties or allow them to sell before the project gets underway. 

Bryant said the case will go to trial in early 2013.

Neighbors were first notified of state’s plan to begin construction on the loop in the 90s. Since then, they’ve complained of being kept in limbo. 

In 2014, the state will start construction on the $1 billion project. But until then, homes in the loop’s path cannot be renovated or sold.

State officials have said there isn’t enough funding to buy the homes. Neighbors, they say, will have to wait until construction begins to be compensated for their properties.

The state will not comment on the pending lawsuit.

The Northern Beltway project was among dozens accelerated for construction by Gov. Bev Perdue in 2011.

On Thursday night, Stan Abrams with the Durham-based N.C. Eminent Domain Law Firm will meet with residents who have any interest in learning about legal action against the state. Abrams says between 75 and 100 notices were sent out for the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Winston-Salem Marriott on North Cherry Street.