WILMINGTON — Almost 10 years ago, the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization approved its Prioritized List of Top 25 Highway Projects which included the widening of Gordon Road, ranked 14th on the list.
A decade later, Gordon Road has seen no improvements, though all hope is not lost.
So what was the plan? Originally, according to Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) documents the Gordon Road Widening project was listed as U-3831 and would have widened the street from College Road to Market Street. But that never happened, and according to county leaders, the project was removed from the state’s transportation improvement plan.
More recently, in 2015, the WMPO adopted the 2040 Metropolitan Plan which does include the Gordon Road project — though it does not lay offer any specific timeline for the project.
“The widening of Gordon Road to multi-lanes is included the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s adopted 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. This plan was adopted in November 2015 and guides the implementation of transportation projects in our region over the next 25 years,” Executive Director for the WMPO Mike Kozlosky said.
Funding is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, factor when it comes to major road projects; from the acquisition of private land to the actual construction costs, building roads is not cheap.
“In 2013, the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law was passed by the General Assembly that allows the N.C. Department of Transportation to use its funding more efficiently and effectively to enhance North Carolina’s infrastructure while supporting economic growth, job creation and a higher quality of life,” Kozlosky said
“The STI law also establishes the Strategic Mobility Formula, which allocates available revenues based on data-driven scoring and local input. It is used to develop NCDOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program, which identifies the transportation projects that will receive funding during a 10-year period,” he added.
The WMPO is well aware of the need for a widened Gordon Road and has even ranked it as a top priority project giving it a total of 100 points – the highest level of importance.
“Prioritization 4.0 was used to develop the 2018-2027 State/MPO Transportation Improvement Programs. Gordon Road qualifies for funding consideration in the Division Needs Tier. During the Prioritization 4.0 process, the MPO Board assigned the maximum local input points allowed (100) to the widening of Gordon Road. The project has been a priority for the MPO Board for many years,” Kozlosky said.
“We are currently working on Prioritization 5.0 with the projects at the Statewide Mobility and Regional Impact Tiers already announced. The MPO will begin our Division Needs Tier local input point assignment in September with MPO Board approval at the October 31 meeting. Over the course of the next two months, the MPO Board will be discussing these local priorities and how to assign our Division Needs Tier local input points,” he concluded.
New Growth means more traffic
As the area continues to grow and attract more residents and businesses, traffic is also becoming increasingly congested. New Hanover County Commissioners recently approved more than 700 new residential units on Gordon Road: a 300-unit apartment complex and a more-than-400-unit subdivision known as The Landing at Lewis Creek Estates.
Despite opposition from county planners as well as dissenting votes from Commissioners Jonathan Barfield and Rob Zapple, the commission approved the Landing at Lewis Creek Estates almost a year ago.
Related: County commissioners approve 400-plus residential units off Gordon Road despite opposition by planners
Clearing of the land has already begun and it is just a matter of time until homes are built, and more cars are added to the roads.
While it appears that local leaders, as well as officials at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, are well aware of the need for improvements, it will be some time before those improvements happen.