WILMINGTON — The local region’s transportation planning agency is in full support of the sate applying for a grant that could cover some of the costs to replace the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
The Wilmington Urban Area Metroplitan Planning Organization held a special meeting Friday morning to consider a resolution supporting North Carolina Department of Transportation’s application to the federal Bridge Investment Program. The vote was unanimously approved by members.
NCDOT has to submit the grant application by Nov. 27 to be considered for the fiscal year 2023-2024 funding. If approved, the grant could cover up to half the cost to replace a 135-foot bridge, which would be $200 million. NCDOT is estimating the cost of construction to be roughly $400 million.
The grant comes with a 20% non-federal match requirement, paid for by NCDOT. NCDOT Division 3 engineer Chad Kimes told the WMPO board last week the state doesn’t currently have a bucket of funds to pull from for its share but was given the greenlight by the secretary of transportation to apply anyway.
Kimes told Port City Daily the timing to apply for the grant works in tandem for the next round of prioritization. If the price tag can decrease, the project has a greater chance of scoring favorably in the state’s data-driven formula for scheduling and funding projects. It’s not scored high enough in past rounds due to its expense.
The USDOT allocated $9.62 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act for bridge repairs and replacements around the country. Each state is guaranteed to receive at least one grant over the four-year rolling cycle.
NCDOT has asked Cape Fear municipalities and state leaders to all submit letters of support to be included in the grant application. The City of Wilmington will consider a resolution at its Monday meeting; New Hanover County commissioners will vote at their Nov. 20 meeting.
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