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Monroe Bypass Fully Approved, Construction Delayed by Lawsuit

The Monroe Bypass now has all the permits it needs. The Army Corps of Engineers has approved a long-awaited water pollution permit - the final one needed to begin construction. However, North Carolina Turnpike Authority spokesman Reid Simons says the state won't build the 20-mile toll road until a lawsuit from environmental groups is resolved. "We feel extremely optimistic about that outcome and out of respect for the judicial process we're gonna wait to sell the remainder of the toll revenue bonds after the judge's ruling, which we expect in August," says Simons. The Southern Environmental Law Center has filed suit challenging the need for the road, which would largely parallel Route 74 from I-485 to Marshville. Pending resolution of the lawsuit, Simons says construction should begin this fall with completion in 2015. Total cost for the road will about $850 million. Two-thirds of that money will come from toll revenues. Drivers who travel the full 20 miles of the bypass would pay about $2.50.