Garden Parkway

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority proposed to build a new highway that will go from I-485 near the Charlotte Airport, across Lake Wylie and the South Fork of the Catawba River, into southern Gaston County. This road is euphemistically referred to as the "Garden Parkway".

 Garden Parkway Preferred Alternative 9In November 2009, the Turnpike Authority announced the selction of a route.  The so called "preferred route" is Route #9 and it can be viewed by clicking on the map to the right.

This project will have a major impact on the Catawba River in the form of construction run-off, ongoing stormwater and the increased development.The Catawba River, South Fork Catawba River, and several streams and creeks would be crossed by the parkway. The DEIS concluded that the construction of the Garden Parkway will have “very strong effects” on water quality, wetlands, impaired waterways, and watersheds.

On August 28, 2012, attorneys for the Catawba Riverkeeper and Clean Air Carolina filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed tollway.

Concerns about the "Garden Parkway"  

  • The "Garden Parkway" will cause the destruction of the "garden" environment that currently exists in southern Gaston County.
  • The proposed tollway will use North Carolina tax dollars on a project that will move jobs from North Carolina to South Carolina.
  • A less expensive and more effective way of relieving congestion on I-85 is to widen I-85.  New roads have a history of encouraging sprawl and increasing congestion.
  • The project is similar to the new tollway in Greenville, South Carolina, which has been a failure
  • Little to no consideration throughout the Analysis for increased traffic along connecting roads, especially Hwy 321
  • FERC Comments in their Draft EIS for the Duke Hydroelectric Project (Lake Wylie) that municipalities and road projects have filled many wetlands in the area- this project does more of the same
  • FERC Comments in their Draft EIS for the Duke Hydroelectric Project (Lake Wylie) that municipalities and road projects have increased sedimentation into area reservoirs- this project does more of the same
  • Potential for soil erosion during and after construction is tremendous!
  • Soil compaction inhibits groundwater and stream recharge in an area that has experienced increasing drought conditions in the past decade
  • Lake Wylie, South Fork Catawba River, Catawba Creek, Crowders Creek, etc. already impaired- thus any additional impacts from construction would be imminently deleterious to wildlife
  • Accelerated runoff from road’s surface will transport sediment downstream from impaired stretches to unimpaired reaches in Gaston Co. creeks
  • Accelerated runoff will increase bank instability and bank-side erosion, further degrading streams
  • Acidification, salinization (salt content) and thermal warming of stormwater runoff to local streams- many of which are degraded and/or impaired
  • Alteration of topography affects local water flow not just at stream/creek/river/lake crossings
  • NEPA requires that an “EIS must identify all the indirect effects that are known, and make good faith effort to explain the effects that are not known but are ‘reasonably foreseeable.”- The Environmental Impact Statement for the project doesn’t even mention the potential impacts of intense suburban sprawl and increased commuter distance to Charlotte.
  • More impervious road leads to increased dehydration and inundation anomalies- something our area has attempted to avoid through intense water conservation measures through our most recent drought of record (2007-2009)
  • Meandering road increases the tollroads “roadway footprint”
  • Consideration of cumulative impacts to habitat segmentation/fragmentation
  • Project will cause light pollution and litter, as well as increased road kill.
  • Project will contribute to ground-level ozone aka smog unattainment status.  This region is becoming ever-closer to more strict requirements under the Clean Air Act to reduce surface level emissions in the Charlotte metropolitan area.
  • Urban renewal and enhancement programs/plans for municipalities along the Parkway would be impacted negatively due to satellite thoroughfare with sprawled development.
  • Mitigation for impacts not even glanced at in EIS -  just stated that this is subject to 404 process by Army Corps. of Engineers and NC DWQ
  • Potentially Beneficial Regional Alternative for Commuters with less environmental destruction: East-West connected by Light Rail along existing railway, or other transit corridors (I-85 or Hwy. 74 (Wilkinson Blvd.)) or a Heavy-rail commuter line for East-West Connection

More Information

In formation about a court ruling that is likely to block the project is at

For more information about problems with the project, go to

For the official Turnpike Commission summary and map of the selected route click here.

For Summary of the project prepared by the Gaston Southeast Connector Coalition, click here.

For even more information, please check out our Garden Parkway Documents Library.

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Jan 25, 2017 NC Riverkeeper Report
From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
Dec 13, 2016 Community Foundation of Gaston County grants $5,000 to CRF for Riverkeeper Program
The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
Dec 12, 2016 A Successful Launch of our Water Education Program at Great Falls Elementary
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in partnership with 4-H Clemson Cooperative Extension successfully completed our pilot Education Outreach Program with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from Great Falls Elementary.
Sep 27, 2016 Lake Wateree Fall Cleanup a Sweeping Success
86 volunteers collected 5,490 pounds of trash from Lake Wateree
Jun 13, 2016 Dozens of Youth Reached in Water Education Outreach Program Pilot Lessons
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Help protect your River! 

Tell your Riverkeeper if you see:

  • Sewage Overflows
  • Failure to control sediment from construction sites
  • Illegal clearing of buffer areas
  • Fish kills 
  • Unpermitted discharges
  • Other issues that concern you

Click here to fill out a pollution report or to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)


The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare North Carolina, the North Carolina Conservation Network, River Network and the Waterkeeper Alliance.  It also in in an alliance with Clean Air Carolina to address issues, such as sprawl, that cause air and water problems.

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