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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. -- Battle lines are being drawn over the potential future widening of I-85 in Gaston County.

Adding lanes in both directions on I-85 from Belmont to Highway 321 isn't funded, but is high on the state's priority list.

Now, some say there's a blatant attempt to delay it in favor of trying to revive the Garden Parkway, which would be a toll road near the airport into Gaston County, but ranks much lower on the state's priority list.

Add Josephine Madaglia and Courtney Leming to the list of drivers who get stuck in rush hour traffic along I-85.

It's miserable, Madaglia said.

People want to get home as soon as they can or to work as soon as they can, Leming said.

Turns out solving their traffic headaches isn't as simple as spending an estimated $200 million to widen I-85 in Gaston County.

Planners now fear the widening, which has not yet been funded, could be delayed and are working to stop it.

Here's why:

Gaston County Commissioner Joe Carpenter, Sr., sent a letter to the state last week, urging the NCDOT to conduct widening feasibility tests before it does any other work regarding I-85.

Carpenter penned this resolution to the same effect.

Neighbors say it is s a blatant attempt to delay I-85 widening in favor of the Garden Parkway, which is something Carpenter believes should be a higher priority.

The parkway ranks about 150 spots lower on the state's priority list, plus the estimated cost of building the toll road near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport into Gaston County is substantially higher.

Any delays allow the supporters of the Garden Parkway to try to rehabilitate the project, either by changing how the project is scored, or whatever means they can think of, so as long as the I-85 project progresses, it competes with funding, said neighbor and road improvement watch dog James Walker.

Wednesday, a committee representing local planners voted to remove part of Carpenter's resolution, calling for work to stop until studies are done.

Officials say it could send the NCDOT a message the widening I-85 isn't wanted or push it back a year if Carpenter gets what he wants.

The NCDOT's rule of thumb is working several parts of projects at the same time.

That's what planners want and what drivers say they prefer.

Be a lot quicker to get through traffic, Leming said.

Madaglia sides with Carpenter when it comes to wanting the Garden Parkway done first.

You could get to the airport faster. It would just be better, she said.

Carpenter says he doesn't want to comment about part of his resolution being removed until he has a chance to look into it.

The issue goes before Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization next week.

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