Raleigh, North Carolina’s 540 outer loop toll road faces environmental legal fight

Environmental groups have filed a petition challenging the planned path of a future outer loop around Raleigh, North Carolina, due to concerns about the effect on nearby waterways that are home to endangered mussels.

The $2.2 billion toll highway, an extension of N.C. 540, would complete the southern portion of an expressway outer loop. The construction contract for the first phase was awarded in December, and the N.C. Division of Water Quality recently issued an environmental permit for the project.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, along with other environmental groups, is petitioning for an administrative hearing to challenge the environmental permit.

The SELC says the proposed highway would “tear through 57,000 linear feet of streams and 70 acres of wetlands.” The groups are also concerned about increased stormwater runoff from the additional pavement from the highway, as well as more greenhouse emissions degrading the area’s air quality.