by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
MONROE, N.C. - Wednesday night, the North Carolina Department of Transportation wrapped up a series of public meetings on the proposed Monroe Bypass -- the nearly 20 mile road that would connect Matthews to Marshville.
Critics said support for the project had faded but the mayor of Marshville told Eyewitness News he wants it to happen now more than ever.
As longtime resident Reed Phifer ate lunch at Tracy's restaurant in Marshville, he didn't bite his tongue when it came to his thoughts on the Monroe Bypass.
"The way the business has been conducted, it's been a fiasco," said Phifer.
Traffic on Highway 74 could end up in front of Phifer's home if the bypass is built. He sold 18 acres of his property to the state and was once eager to see construction begin.
"I thought it would help the county, help the traffic situation. But now the more I look at it, study it, and think about it, I'm not sure that it will," said Phifer.
Critics said support for the project had dwindled over the years while it's been snarled in legal challenges and debate. Some are also questioning its economic impact after a NCDOT study found the road would only increase development in Union County by about 1 percent.
Marshville Mayor Franklin Deese has been a long-time supporter of the bypass and the easy access it could create between his town and Charlotte. Deese believes it will spurn noticeable development and growth for Marshville and points east.
"If their numbers say 1 percent, I'm not here to disprove or disclaim that, but I think it will be beneficial for the area," said Deese.
The NCDOT plans to start building the bypass in 2014. You can click here to see what the Monroe Bypass will include and where the project stands right now.