GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - The idea of a toll road is a hard sell in Gaston County. many people are against the concept.
"Against it. Exactly," one woman told WBTV in Gastonia today. "We all live out here in the country. So we're against all this toll road stuff, you know."
And the malcontent is exasperated by huge gap in the two major studies on the proposed Garden Parkway.
The state Turnpike Authority's federally required study showed that North Carolina would lose 900 jobs if the highway were built, while South Carolina would gain 600.
The state says that's because the parkway would steer work south.
But then UNC Charlotte Economic Professor John Connaughton was hired to take a look, and he says the toll road would create nearly 18,000 jobs.
It's hard to understand how the findings could be so wildly different. But several employees at the Federal Highway Administration think they have the answer. They think Connaughton is wrong. They say his methods weren't strong, and that his work doesn't support his findings.
Connaughton is often hired to conduct economic impact studies in Charlotte, and this isn't the first time he's created controversy.
He recently studied the potential impact of a new uptown baseball stadium for the Charlotte Knights, and critics again say his jobs estimates are bloated.
Connaughton was not available for comment.
It is unclear how the FHA's beliefs will affect the project.
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