BELMONT, NC (WBTV) - Anyone who lives in Belmont or Gastonia and commutes to Charlotte on I-85 will tell you that traffic can be maddening. So when the Turnpike Authority said it planned to build a parkway starting at I-85 at Bessemer City, winding south around Crowder's Mountain, turning east towards Charlotte, and ending at the airport…you'd think the plan would have a lot of proponents. But on Monday afternoon, the talk at Sammy's Restaurant and Pub in Belmont was of problems.
"If you're going to be that much in debt, considering all the other issues this state has, then why even build it," said Brett Jenson, as he ate lunch there.
It's a one billion dollar project, and a toll road. The tolls are a gamble in a state that simply isn't used to them. But even if projections work out, they won't pay for everything.
"When you start talking the big money gap, that's the problem," Jenson said. "I'm actually for the road. I don't have a problem with it going through the neighborhoods. That's fine. Because right now, it still takes about 45 minutes to get from South Gastonia into Charlotte."
"Maybe it's bad timing," added another diner, "with the economy the way it is."
A group called Stop the Toll Road is upset about the money and the design. They call it The Toll Road to Nowhere.
And now, there's a new worry. The state just told Belmont officials that some of their water and sewer lines are in the path of the parkway, and that Belmont will have to pay to remove them…reportedly a million bucks. But Mayor Pro Tem Ron Faulk said "That might not be the case, we really don't have the final cost figure."
There are also wildly conflicting reports about the project's impact on jobs. Some say North Carolina will lose them, which irks taxpayers here paying for the project.
"I think those people that feel very strongly about that should continue to voice their opinions in the proper format," Faulk said.