Saturday, May 28, 2022

With three years to finish 23 road projects, here’s where Wilmington stands on hitting its bond deadlines

A new traffic light is currently running an obligatory phase of constant blinking yellow lights before the store's Wednesday opening. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The City of Wilmington project managers have a massive slate of transportation projects to oversee through 2023. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Almost two dozen transportation projects are in the design phase, funded by the city’s voter-approved 2014 Transportation Bond.

By 2022-2023, those projects are expected to move onto the construction phase. This will mean potential traffic-related headaches for travel within the City of Wilmington, but ultimately, the efforts are designed to improve the current transportation system.

“It’s going to be a challenging time,” City Division Engineer Denise Freund told Council Monday.

Wilmington added $11 million in existing funds to round out the $44 million bond package approved in November 2014. Of the 37 total projects earmarked, 12 have been completed as of January.

Only three projects are behind schedule, despite concerns over dwindling resources cited internally by city officials early last year. Fourteen are right on the anticipated schedule and 20 are ahead of schedule, according to an update shared Monday.

Of the 37 projects funded, all have started, one has been suspended, 23 are in the design phase, one is currently under construction, and 12 are already complete. All remaining projects are expected to be completed by 2023. This excludes the Carolina Beach Road streetscape project Wilmington partnered with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on.

Freund offered an update on the status of each project at Council’s agenda briefing Monday. Here’s an overview of her presentation to show where each project stands:

Planning

  • Hurst Drive Extension: A road extension project budgeted for $4.2 million. This would create a new connection between Kerr Avenue and College Road from Hurst Drive.
    • This project has been suspended. The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is unsure about how it plans to develop property this road would cross in the future. “They don’t want to create any restrictions on themselves by putting a road through the property,” Freund said. “So, we don’ thave anywhere to build the road.”
    • Suspended funds will be transferred into the overall bond’s roadway contingency fund to cover budget shortfalls for other projects. If any funds are leftover, staff will revisit how to use them.

Design

  • Kerr Avenue Trail: Another UNCW partnership project for a 0.7-mile trail connecting Kerr Avenue and College Road, budgeted for $907,000.
    • City staff are negotiating with UNCW to determine what exact path the multi-use trail may take.
    • UNCW prefers a final connection to College Road off its property. This may create additional funding concerns, as this project has no right-of-way funds budgeted.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • North Front Street Streetscape: A $1.7 million project that will improve aesthetics along Chestnut Street to Walnut Street.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • Greenville Loop Trail – A 4.3-mile multi-use path along Greenville Loop Road that will connect College Road to Park Avenue, budgeted for $6.8 million.
    • City staff expect to learn from a consultant which side of Greenville Loop Road the trail should be constructed on within May.
    • Construction could begin in 2022.
  • Racine Drive, right-turn lane: A new southbound right-turn lane is budgeted for $150,000 on Racine Drive to connect to New Centre Drive.
    • The design is 25% complete.
    • Construction could begin in late 2021.
  • 17th Street Sidewalk, Dawson Street crosswalks: A $385,000 -sidewalk designed to fill gaps along the northside of 17th Street between the Scottish Rite Masonic Bodies facility and Marstellar Street.
    • Planners are having difficulty finding a path that does not disturb an old cemetery. “We may encounter remains,” Freund said of plans to cut into the slope on the property, an encounter planners hope to avoid.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • Pine Grove Drive Northern Intersections: This project will realign the skewed Pine Grove Drive and Oleander Drive intersection. The $4.6 million project will improve traffic signals and add crosswalks in both directions.
    • Staff are coordinating with NCDOT with its quadrant intersection for Oleander Drive and College Road.
    • Construction could begin in 2022.
  • Pine Grove Drive Southern Intersection: Budgeted for $3 million, this section of Pine Grove Drive improvements will install a dual-lane roundabout at the intersection of Pine Grove Drive and Greenville Loop Road and add a southbound lane from the intersection along Pine Grove Drive to Beasley Road.
    • A public meeting is planned for April or May.
    • Construction could begin in 2022.
  • Dawson and Wooster Streetscape: A $1.2 million crosswalk project that will improve pedestrian access along Dawson and Wooster Street.
    • The design is 50% complete.
    • Construction will begin this year.
  • Oleander Drive Sidewalk #1: A $635,000 sidewalk project that will connect Hawthorne Road to 42nd Avenue.
    • The design is 50% complete.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • Oleander Drive Sidewalk #3: A $224,000 sidewalk project that will connect Wooster Street to Mimosa Place.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • Eastwood Road Acess Management Phase 2: The developer of LIDL is assisting with this section of Eastwood Road improvements.
    • The design is 65% complete.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.
  • Carolina Beach Road Streetscape: A $4.3 million project that will make aesthetic and safety improvements along Carolina Beach Road between Burnette Boulevard and Shipyard Boulevard. This is a joint NCDOT-Wilmington project.
    • This project was briefly placed on hold because of NCDOT’s recent cash flow issues. NCDOT recently restarted the project and held a kickoff meeting with City planners.
    • Construction could begin in 2022.
  • Masonboro Loop Trail: This $2.9 million project will create a 1.4-mile trail connecting neighborhoods to Parsley Elementary School. The path would stretch along Masonboro Loop Road between Pine Grove Road and Navaho Trail.
    • Three or four easements still need to be acquired.
    • A public meeting will be announced this spring.
    • Construction could begin this year.
  • Wrightsville Avenue Sidewalk #2: A $174,000 sidewalk project will fill gaps between Castle Street and Independence Boulevard along Wrightsville Avenue.
    • The design is 65% complete.
    • Freund said staff has identified trees with roots that could be impacted by the sidewalk, so project managers intend to use a flexible pavement. “It’s a flexible, more forgiving system than concrete to go over the tree roots where we’re afraid we might damage the tree with the excavation required to build the sidewalk.”
    • Construction could begin this year.
  • Wrightsville Avenue roundabout, sidewalks: This $3.6 million project includes a traffic roundabout between Wrightsville Avenue and Wallace Avenue to improve traffic flow. A 1.2-mile sidewalk will connect gaps along Wrightsville Avenue.
    • Roundabout design is 65% complete.
    • Construction could begin in 2021.

Right-of-way

  • Eastwood Road Access Management Phase 3: This NCDOT project will create a new access point between Military Cutoff Road and Eastwood Road, which will cut around the Eastport neighborhood (City staff are not involved in this project).
    • Construction could begin in the fiscal year 2022.

Construction

  • Eastwood Road Access Management Phase 1: A $4.9 million roadway project includes a large portion of developer-funded improvements along Eastwood Road near Autumn Hall. Improvements include medians, traffic signals, U-turns, and other enhancements.
    • Construction is already underway and will be completed this year.

Complete

For an overview of completed road projects authorized by the 2014 Transportation Bond, visit the city’s project page.

  • Central College Trail
  • Oleander Drive Sidewalk #2
  • Delany Avenue Sidewalk:
  • Fairlawn Area Sidewalks:
  • North 23rd Street Sidewalk
  • Dawson Street Sidewalk
  • Wilshire Blvd Crosswalk
  • Love Grove Memorial Bridge

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