SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation cut checks to every municipality in the state this week as part of an annual effort to improve local roads.
Cities and towns in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties received $3.1 million in total. The three counties have 27 municipalities, but about half the funding went to Wilmington because of its population size and streetscapes. The Cape Fear area can expect to get a second infusion for the same amount in January.
The money comes from the state’s Powell Bill fund. Set up in 1951, the legislation was the end result of a project to get North Carolina to help pay for roads not managed by NCDOT. In total, the state sent out about $72.5 million spread out among 508 municipalities; the same amount will go out early next year for a total of $154.8 million. Statewide, totals decreased slightly by $5 million.
Despite the decrease, the area will receive about the same figures as 2021-2022 because of population growth in towns like Leland, up by roughly 2,500 people.
The amount of Powell Bill money available each year comes from a state gas tax and is determined by a formula. This fiscal year every person in a city is worth $21.69, and each mile of road is worth $1,675.
All the roads in the county and most major byways, such as I-40 and Highway 421, are maintained and paid for by NCDOT. City-maintained roads, particularly in residential areas that snake through neighborhoods, typically handle less traffic (the city maintains a public list).
While it doesn’t oversee major thoroughfares like College Road and sections of Market Street, the city is responsible for paying for nearly 400 miles of roadways. Powell Bill money only covers a portion of what municipalities have to pay for in maintenance.
In 2014, voters signed off on a $44 million bond referendum to cover infrastructure projects like streets and sidewalks. Three years later, the city approved a plan to spend $59 million on roads between 2018 and 2023.
Wilmington expects to take in $3.2 million in Powell Bill money this fiscal year. Public services director Dabe Mayes said the city has $6 million dedicated just to street repairs in 2023, allocated as part of the city’s capital projects budget. It also includes about $1 million in sidewalk projects.
Some street projects covered include newly paved sections of Hague Drive, West Cascade Road and Camelia Drive, Mayes explained. The city also has contracted work to pave Bentley Drive, parts of Harnett Street, Canterbury Road, Columbus Circle and 42nd Street.
Leland, the second-largest city in the region by population, received $350,000 of Powell Bill money.
Town spokesperson Jessica Jewell said it will help fund current and ongoing projects, such as street resurfacings happening throughout the town and an extension being built on Olde Waterford Way.
An extension on Brunswick Village Boulevard will also start later this year. Leland is currently in the design phase on a project to pave, curb, gutter, install sidewalks and drainage on several unpaved gravel roads: Preman Lane, John Sneed Lane, Graham Drive and Appleton Way.
Below is a list of all the Powell Bill money distributed in the tri-county area compiled from NCDOT data.
Bald Head Island: $24,516.65
Population: 282 City roads: 25.62 miles
Population: 2,462 City roads: 2.49 miles
Boiling Spring Lakes: $163,958.04
Population: 6,163 City roads: 115.96 miles
Population: 152 City roads: 1.96 miles
Population: 2,121 City roads: 13.75 miles
Carolina Shores: $73,305.46
Population: 4,849 City roads: 24.74 miles
Caswell Beach: $4,487.51
Population: 403 City roads: 0.14
Holden Beach: $22,131.14
Population: 968 City roads: 13.89 miles
Population: 25,459 City roads: 97.17 miles
Population: 1,452 City roads: 8.44 miles
Population: 746 City roads: 6.30 miles
Oak Island: $179,155.07
Population: 8,855 City roads: 99.25 miles
Ocean Isle Beach: $ 20,945.49
Population: 922 City roads: 13.07 miles
Sandy Creek: $5,279.51
Population: 259 City roads: 2.95 miles
Population: 4,347 City roads: 28.16 miles
Population: 4,226 City roads: 28.34 miles
Sunset Beach: $80,267.29
Population: 4,300 City roads: 40.16 miles
New Hanover County
Carolina Beach: $105,755.96
Population: 6,584 City roads: 41.02 miles
Kure Beach: $35,176.02
Population: 2,208 City roads: 13.41 miles
Population: 118,063 City roads: 399.50 miles
Wrightsville Beach: $36,150.94
Population: 2,474 City roads: 11.13 miles
Burgaw: $ 61,132.24
Population: 4,203 City roads: 18.57 miles
Population: 306 City roads: 4.17 miles
Topsail Beach: $9,594.13
Population: 480 City roads: 5.24 miles
St. Helena: $5,798.18
Population: 425 City roads: 1.42 miles
Surf City: $64,201.63
Population: 4,191 City roads: 22.39 miles
Population: 184 City roads: 0.43 miles
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