Prioritizing transportation improvements for southeastern NC

With population anticipated to double in southeastern NC over the next 20+ years, transportation improvements are a necessity today and in the future.

The Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) directed a process to include public input regarding which transportation projects should be priorities for the NC DOT in this region of North Carolina. A point system was used to determine which projects would be at the top of the list to receive state funding. Included on the WMPO list was the Hampstead Bypass, the Kerr Avenue/MLK Parkway interchange, the Cape Fear River Crossing and other regional transportation needs.  According to the NC DOT, the Cape Fear Crossing could improve the traffic flow and enhance freight movements beginning in the vicinity of US 17, future I-140 in Brunswick county across the Cape Fear River, and to US 421 near the Port of Wilmington in southern New Hanover County. For the full list, visit the WMPO website.

Additionally, the City of Wilmington is taking the next incremental step with a 2014 Transportation Bond. Why?

  • The City has identified many transportation needs
  • Transportation continues to be a high priority for City residents (Citizen survey)
  • Citizens like trails/multi-use paths and want more of them (Comprehensive Plan input)
  • Lack of adequate funding needed to build transportation projects

So first we need to understand why we do not have enough funds for these improvements. Under the Powell Bill, NC Dot provides funding for the building and maintenance of major city streets in each municipality taken from gas tax revenue. “Funds are given to each city based on their population and street mileage to maintain, repair and construct city streets that are not part of the state highway system,” states the bill. For example, portions of Oleander Drive are owned by the city and others portions are owned by the NC DOT. The city is responsible for maintenance of its roadways as has only so much state and federal funding available towards capital improvements and infrastructure.

Solution! On November 4th, Wilmington residents will be voting on a $55 million transportation bond that would provide funds for the identified local roadways needed of improvements. $35 million will help aid the repairs of roadways and $20 million will go towards bike and pedestrian improvements that the WMPO identified within the boundaries of New Hanover County. Sidewalks, crosswalks and trails will be placed in needed areas that exhibit high traffic volumes near residential and commercial development with the goal to improve safety and boost other choices for transportation.

According to the city of Wilmington if the bond is passed, city residents will see a two cent property tax increase. For a full list of what the bond would help improve visit:2014 Transportation Bond.

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