Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Widening of Market Street exit on U.S. 17 proposed for state funding

The exit ramp onto Market Street from U.S. 17 (Port City Daily/File)
The exit ramp onto Market Street from U.S. 17 (Port City Daily/File)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Anyone who has taken U.S. 17 south from Pender County knows how congested (and, for some, confusing) it can be to merge onto Market Street in Porters Neck where only one exit lane currently exists. But if things go according to plan, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) could make the exit a two-lane ramp — that is — once funding becomes available again.

According to a proposed resolution that will go before the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, the NCDOT has identified the route as a “Strong candidate for funding through the state’s High-Impact, Low-Cost program.”

NCDOT Division 3 is the local branch of the state organization and staff has requested county support in asking the state for $400,000 to fund the dual exit lanes.

The proposed improvement would increase capacity at the southbound exit ramp on U.S. 17 at Market Street by adding an additional exit lane. Adding the additional lane will benefit the traveling public by increasing mobility and providing congestion relief in the Scott’s Hill area,” according to the request.

So what is the High-Impact Low-Cost program? Well, it was established just two years ago and it provides funding for low-cost projects that will have a high impact on transportation in the area. These projects include things like intersection improvements, minor widening, and operational movement projects.

Related: NCDOT funding impacts for Wilmington region: Kerr interchange delayed, Gordon Road widening expedited

Each division in the state gets an equal share of the funding, however, it is up to division staff to ‘score’ each project it identifies and request the funding from the State Board of Transportation.

But there is one minor problem — the NCDOT is almost out of money and they have put a freeze on spending.

But that hasn’t stopped Division 3 from requesting the county move forward with the request and getting all the required items in order so when the time comes, they only have to submit the request.


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