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Garden Parkway Opponents Rally In Belmont Tonight

http://66.225.205.104/JR20120402a.mp3

The North Carolina Department of Transportation expects to have permits and financing in place this year for the proposed Garden Parkway in Gaston County. But residents who oppose the 22-mile toll road are still rallying to stop it. They'll gather in protest tonight at the Belmont City Council meeting. The Garden Parkway is meant to ease congestion on I-85 and give people who live in southern Gaston County a new way to cross the Catawba River and come to Charlotte. Fine, says Neil Moore, "But at what price?" Moore lives in Gaston County and is part of a citizens group critical of the road's design and nearly $1 billion price tag. That money would come from state and federal sources, as well as tolls collected from drivers. Tonight, NCDOT will be asking the City of Belmont to pitch in, too, by moving some water and sewer lines that are in the way. DOT spokeswoman Reid Simons says it should come as no surprise to Belmont. "The city did choose to locate their utilities inside the DOT easement a couple of years , so that was their understanding - when we needed that easement they would relocate at their expense," says Simons. Cost estimates range from $600,000 to $1 million. Some Belmont residents worry the project will delay repairs to other sewer lines. Simons says the state can arrange a payment plan to minimize the burden on Belmont's budget. Garden Parkway opponents will rally at Belmont City Hall prior to tonight's council meeting with DOT. If all goes according to the state's plan, the Garden Parkway will be finished in 2015.