WILMINGTON, N.C. — As the North Carolina coast continues to surge in population the N.C. Department of Transportation is scrambling to create infrastructure that supports the growth.
In an effort to combat the ever-growing traffic problem in Wilmington, the state is in the process of creating a new bypass that will connect some of the city’s overcrowded main roads to Interstate 140.
What You Need To Know
The new bypass will connect Military Cutoff Road and Market Street to Interstate 140
Construction began in 2018 and is expected to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023
The state has had to purchase nearly 200 properties in order to clear a path for the highway
Alex Stewart, the resident engineer for NCDOT in Wilmington says the new bypass extension should divert between 15,000 and 20,000 vehicles from Market Street which has anywhere between 48,000 and 53,000 cars on the four-lane road each day.
“Everyone kind of gets in the habit of where they like to drive and the routes they like to take and some of that will change in some of these intersections, but ultimately once this road is completed, the connectivity will increase tenfold,” Stewart said.
After years of deliberation construction is nearing completion and is expected to be finished in late 2022, but the delay means the land that was once undeveloped now has houses and a neighborhood surrounding it. Homeowners like Alissa Buffington have serious questions about the highway growing just behind their fences.
“I can’t envision where they say this is going to happen at,” Buffington said. “I see the road, but I don’t see where the on and exit ramps are going to be. We gotta find answers. We can’t envision it completely. I’m not afraid of a road or highway, but you just want them to do it right.”
The state has had to purchase and clear nearly 200 properties in order to make way for the bypass but for those homes that were spared, they now have a major highway cutting through what was once their quiet backyards.
“I like this house so this is where I wanted to be. Hopefully they don’t want to take the lane out this more further because then they’re going to have to take the whole row of houses,” Buffington said.
The strip of land behind Buffington’s home didn’t have any homes on it prior to the highway being built, but the land served as an essential part of the drainage system for the neighborhood. The area saw major flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, and she’s now concerned that with an impervious surface where there used to be soil, that water will divert into her own backyard.
“I don’t think it’s going to bring down property values, you just want it to be right; you want the flooding and the drainage to be properly done so that it doesn’t flood and mess anything up,” Buffington said.