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State Pushes Ahead With Monroe Bypass Despite More Hurdles

Despite another serious regulatory blow, state transportation officials continue to push ahead with planning for the Monroe Bypass. The Federal Highway Administration this week took back their approval of the $700 million toll road designed to ease heavy traffic on Highway 74. North Carolina Department of Transportation spokeswoman Greer Beaty says the state hopes to regain federal approval by fixing problems in the environmental study prepared for the road rather than redoing it entirely. A judge earlier this year ruled that study was not done correctly. "You know, a lot of work has gone into this and we're going to stay the course unless the community or elected officials tell us they don't want us to," says Beaty. Elected officials are still reeling at the rapid reversal of fortunes for the Monroe Bypass. "I think that took the wind out of me a little bit," says Indian Trail Town Councilman Chris King. "Last month, I was 100 percent sure this is gonna happen. Right now, probably 50-50." King is a member of the regional transportation planning group that recommended the Monroe Bypass be built and still wants it. There's no timetable or estimated cost for revising the environmental study, but NCDOT spent millions of dollars and more than a decade drafting the original. The state had originally hoped to complete the Monroe Bypass by 2015.