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Monday, May 27, 2024

$106M Military Cutoff Ext. to open by summer, connect to future Hampstead Bypass

The Military Cutoff Road Extension, in the works for five years, is slated to open this summer and ease traffic in northern New Hanover County. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti Willis)

WILMINGTON — A roadway extension years in the making is expected to wrap in the next few months, easing traffic around the northern part of Wilmington.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been working to extend Military Cutoff Road from Market Street to N.C. 140 for five years. It is slated to open by summer after an almost year-long delay. The $106-million project has increased in costs by 11% percent, since first put out to bid in 2017.

READ MORE: NCDOT to begin improvements on northern College Road by 2026

Currently, Military Cutoff terminates just north of Gordon Road and Market Street’s intersection. The extension will add 4.15 miles and eventually connect to a completed Hampstead Bypass for a combined 17.5 miles.

The extension will have two lanes of traffic in each direction, with a median running its entire length. From just north of Market to just south of N.C. 140 there will be three lanes each way. 

Intersections were created at Putnam Drive, Lendire Drive, Torchwood Boulevard and Murrayville; only right turns will be permitted onto Military Cutoff Road from these side roads. U-turn lanes will be created to accommodate left turns.

An 8-foot multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians runs along the entirety of the extension as well. Additional improvements include noise walls, as well as drainage upgrades, bridges and culverts.

New construction has been underway at the interchange of Military Cutoff and Market, extending north near Ogden Park and residential areas. Traffic has been diverted in Ogden for months, as motorists have had to turn right onto a Gordon Road extension to loop back to north Market, while crews were clearing, paving and laying asphalt.

Originally bid out for $95.5 million to Balfour Infrastructure Inc., costs increased in recent years due to additional work, according to the NCDOT. Inflation also affected materials pricing and there were line-item overruns “typical for a project of this size,” NCDOT spokesperson Lauren Haviland said.

An intersection for a future Murrayville Road connector was added to the project, as part of a deal with developers of Hanover Reserve, a 473-unit residential complex in the works. The east-west route will be extended to function as a thoroughfare between Military Cutoff and Castle Hayne Road. 

The project was identified by NCDOT over a decade ago, in 2005, as a way to improve traffic and safety in the Market Street corridor. The first public hearing was held in 2012 with the official state record of decision giving the greenlight to move ahead in September 2014.

Right-of-way acquisitions began in 2015, with 270 businesses and residential properties impacted. In total, NCDOT paid $91.6 million to property owners for their land in order to extend Military Cutoff Road.

Construction launched in 2018 and by the end of 2019, NCDOT anticipated a fall 2022 opening. However, due to various conflicts with existing utilities, the utility systems had to be completely redesigned, which caused a 297-day extension.

Currently serving on average 40,000 vehicles daily, the new route will provide an alternate travel path to and from northern New Hanover County to eastern Pender County.

It will connect to the Hampstead Bypass once complete, a $429-million project being constructed in two phases. The goal is to improve traffic along U.S. 17 in Pender and New Hanover counties. 

Work is underway to build the route from N.C. 210 to north of Hampstead, with construction for the second half, from N.C. 140 to N.C. 210, scheduled to begin in 2026.

ALSO: Hampstead Bypass construction to start in February, NCDOT awards contract

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