Long Delayed Monroe Connector/Bypass Likely to Receive a Green Light

Lauren Atkins

Project Date: Right-of-Way Acquisition and Construction Expected in 2015.

Project Number: R-3329 and R-2559

Few parties can seem to agree on whether or not the Monroe Connector/Bypass in Union County is a good idea. Government entities like the NCDOT, the NCTA and the FHWA are chomping at the bit to begin construction on the long delayed project. On the opposing side are environmental groups like the Southern Environmental Law Center and concerned citizens who think that the project will have a devastating impact on the area’s natural resources or is simply a waste of multiple millions of taxpayer dollars. Whether the Monroe Connector/Bypass is a good idea or not, it seems all but certain that the project will get the green light sometime in 2015.

Like many NCDOT projects, the Monroe Connector/Bypass has been in the planning stages for decades. It began in the 1990s as the Monroe Bypass. By the turn of the 21st century, it had morphed into the Monroe Connector. January 2007 saw the NCDOT combine the two projects into one. The new project is a toll freeway extending for nearly 20 miles through Union County and a small portion of Mecklenburg County.

The proposed bypass would diverge from US 74 at Stallings, joining back up with the highway just outside of Marshville. Currently, US 74 is one of a very few options North Carolinians have for getting from the mountains to the coast. Moreover, many residents use the highway to commute to work and truckers have relied upon it for decades. The upshot is that US 74 is nearly always congested. That congestion is coupled with numerous traffic lights, meaning that local people dread being forced to utilize US 74.

That’s why the toll based Monroe Connector/Bypass seems like a good idea to many people. They see it as a means of relieving that congestion and giving motorists a high speed alternative that bypasses Indian Trail and Monroe. Detractors are more concerned with the NCDOT’s apparent lack of rigorous review of the environmental impacts that are likely to be caused by the project. A lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Southern Environmental Law Center. This forced the NCDOT to revisit its environmental impact study, which has greatly slowed down the project.

Things seemed to be getting back on track for the project in May of 2014 when the Federal Highway Administration approved the updated environmental study. The NCDOT is expected to begin right-of-way acquisitions as early as 2015, and it seems likely that they will be in a hurry to begin construction as soon as possible.

With the NCDOT anxious to get the Monroe Connector/Bypass project underway, they will no doubt be using high pressure tactics on property owners whose rights are likely to be affected by the construction. Some of these properties are residential houses while others are businesses. However, some of those most affected are farmers who have been working the region’s productive land for decades. Regardless of the nature of the property, all of these citizens are entitled to just compensation for the taking of their land.

It’s rarely advisable to face NCDOT officials without benefit of legal counsel. The NCDOT and other government entities have numerous appraisers and attorneys working for them and so should property owners. The law requires that the NCDOT deal fairly with property owners in an eminent domain action in North Carolina. Property owners can ensure that the government lives up to this ideal by engaging the assistance of the Raleigh eminent domain lawyers at Cranfill Sumner.

Lauren AtkinsLong Delayed Monroe Connector/Bypass Likely to Receive a Green Light