- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A federal appeals court applied the brakes Tuesday on a proposed toll road that would have linked Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, saying it faces “multiple barriers to construction.”

The ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals follows a lawsuit filed initially in 2012 by the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation and Clean Air Carolina. The Southern Environmental Law Center represented the plaintiffs in the case.

“We’re pleased the Fourth Circuit recognized that the Garden Parkway project is dead and would face an uphill battle if it were to ever be resurrected,” said Kym Hunter, SELC staff attorney. “The court honed in on how poorly the project scored under North Carolina’s data-driven Strategic Transportation Investments law. It’s very unlikely this unneeded project could ever secure the nearly billion dollar funds to proceed.”

According to the lawsuit, an analysis of the 22-mile, $900 million project painted a misleading picture of the parkway’s projected benefits related to alleviating congestion and growth.

The appeals court noted in its ruling that the legislature stripped the parkway of funding, and that the N.C. Department of Transportation said the project was no longer viable.

In 2013, a committee in the N.C. House adopted a new version of Gov. Pat McCrory’s transportation overhaul plan that removed the Garden Parkway and two other proposed projects. At the time, the projects had been added by a previous committee over the objections of lawmakers who said their inclusion would doom the bill in the Senate and defeat the purpose of taking politics out of transportation decisions.

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