Tuesday, August 16, 2022

City transportation bond referendum possible

November’s ballot could have a municipal presence after all.

The City of Wilmington presented the possibility Monday morning of a bond initiative to cover another large slate of local transportation improvements.

A shot from late 2012, when traffic barrels dominated North Third Street. File photo by Ben Brown.
A shot from late 2012, when traffic barrels dominated North Third Street, where improvements were enabled by a 2006 voter-approved transportation bond. File photo by Ben Brown.

Although planners haven’t worked up a dollar figure, they said they could prioritize valued projects in time for voters to consider it in the general election.

Among those projects: a second access to Love Grove, the community whose only present way in or out is intersected by a rail line that has delivered serious problems. In June 2013, train cars carrying xylene and methanol derailed there and trapped the neighborhood’s residents for essentially a full day. Their request for a second access is several years old. (Related story)

Other possibilities:

  • widening Independence Boulevard from River Road to Carolina Beach Road
  • enhancing the aesthetics of North Front Street from Chestnut to Grace streets (in the style already in place between Market and Chestnut)
  • improving the respective South College Road and Carolina Beach Road streetscapes
  • installing roundabouts at various spots, including the intersection of Wrightsville and Wallace avenues
  • extending Head Road, Hurst Drive and Wilshire Boulevard

They’re among several others that will be scrutinized by a newly formed committee made of Councilmembers Kevin O’Grady, Earl Sheridan and Laura Padgett, though they may confer individually with other members of council for help prioritizing.

According to resident input in recent meetings on the development of a citywide comprehensive growth plan, demand is strong for more, or better, non-vehicular travel options.

“Everybody wants Wilmington to be more walkable and more bike-able,” said Glenn Harbeck, the city’s development services director, during a briefing with council members Monday. “There’s three items that come up ranked in the top three at every meeting, and that one is always in the top three.”

“And so is traffic,” said O’Grady.

He added: “As we go forward with this, because this is really long-range … we have to make sure we’re in sync with what we’re hearing in the comprehensive plan.”

The city council would have to adopt a list of projects by the end of April and an associated resolution by June 3 in order to meet the November ballot, said Mike Kozlosky of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization.

It would be the city’s first transportation bond since 2006, when voters approved $14 million. Subsequent projects included the North Third Street improvement as well as the widening of Independence Boulevard from Shipyard Boulevard to Carolina Beach Road.

A slate of city streets and sidewalks are already getting attention under a five-year improvement plan funded by five cents of the city’s overall 45 cent property tax rate. That plan, activated with the city’s 2012-2013 budget, includes $41 million worth of various infrastructural projects.

Click here to view a breakdown.

Ben Brown is a news reporter at Port City Daily. Reach him at ben.b@hometownwilmington.com or (910) 772-6335. On Twitter: @benbrownmedia

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