The construction of a special I-40 interchange for Carolina North has been a persistent rumor.

Over the last 5 years, I heard UNC officially deny any such plan more than a dozen times. The last time for me, I believe, was when UNC’s liason to the Horace Williams Citizen’s Committee (HWCC) said she hadn’t heard anything about it.

According to Emily Coakley and Rob Shapard in today’s HeraldSun “Local officials say they’ve heard UNC might pursue a new interchange on Interstate 40 to serve the planned Carolina North research campus.”

Why worry if it’s just a rumor?

Well, I, as I’m sure other local longtime residents, remember a few trial UNC balloons that eventually became reality. Sometimes, it seems, the more outrageous, the more likely.

Creating an I-40 interchange and subsequent transit corridor near burgeoning neighborhoods and sensitive ecological preserves seems fairly outrageous. With the recent wildcard resolution by UNC’s Board of Trustees, a group that appears to be “chafing at the bit” for substantive action on Carolina, it’s not too difficult to imagine that there’s more substance to this I-40 rumor than in years past. That, of course, and it’s almost Summer – when the public is generally distracted – a time when UNC traditionally unleashes problematic proposals.

The now defunct HWCC has been following the transit-related discussions on Carolina North and, in their January memo, sketched out further particpation. I’m sure we would have been privy to UNC’s thoughts on a I-40 interchange.

Now, we’ll have to rely on the press and our local elected officials for adequate forewarning.

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