Filling the hole in the Wilmington bypass
Last week, we told you an infusion of about $22 million in federal stimulus money was going to speed up construction on the Wilmington bypass. But the new plan leaves a big hole in the middle. The part of the bypass connecting North Market Street to Highway 421 is complete and already quite popular. For some reason traffic engineers call it the “C” leg, which they built first.
You would think they would complete the next leg from there west, the “B” leg. Instead they are going to build the “L” leg from Highway 17 in Brunswick County north to 74/76, leaving a big gap in the middle.
So why build a road with a big gap in the middle? Money.
The state already has funding in the pipe line for the “B” leg, linking 421 to 74/76, starting in 2012. The stimulus money was an unexpected windfall that altered the game plan. “We started looking at the B section and wanted to build a piece of the B section. The first connecting piece, from 421 over to Cedar Hill Road is all bridge and is a $140 million project by itself. It really got down to economics and what we could use the dollars for to build on the Wilmington bypass,” said DOT’s Allen Pope.
The bidding process on that southern leg starts in a matter of weeks. Construction could be complete within three years.
“There’s a hole in the middle but that hole will be filled someday in the future,” Pope said. By 2015 if the current plan holds.
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