WILMINGTON — Northern New Hanover County has experienced vast growth throughout the years, especially around Gordon Road, a high-traffic corridor between I-40 and Market Street. With continuous development projects underway in the area — Landing at Lewis Creek, Estrella Landing — the N.C. Department of Transportation is making a move to hear from the community at an upcoming virtual public meeting to discuss “U-6202,” the widening of Gordon Road from I-40 to U.S. 17 (Market Street).
Slated to begin next year, the project would span 2.5 miles, turning the current two-lane road into four lanes, divided by a 17.5-foot raised median in an effort to decrease congestion, traffic accidents, and better prepare for ongoing growth. The department has included in its plans 11-foot travel lanes with curb and gutter and 10-foot multi-use path within the grass area, on the north side, according to a press release.
Crews also will install reduced conflict intersections (RCIs) to help create better flow, and prevent traffic backups and accidents. NCDOT reports reduced conflict intersections cut down collisions by 46% without the use of traffic lights and 15% with the use of traffic lights.
“Corridors with growing traffic volumes and high crash rates are good candidates for a reduced-conflict intersection,” according to the NCDOT website.
Common RCI designs direct drivers to make right turns only from side streets into the natural route of traffic; left turns would be eliminated. Anyone wanting to turn left would need to first move into the pattern of traffic, drive a short distance — normally 1,000 feet away — and make a U-turn.
Supported by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO), widening Gordon Road has been on the radar, in some form or fashion, for more than a decade. In the mid 2000s, WMPO ranked it 14th on its “Prioritized List of Top 25 Highway Projects.” Then the project was removed from the state’s transportation improvement plan, and in 2015, WMPO placed it within the 2040 Metropolitan Plan, to guide transportation needs over the next quarter-century.
Funding was unsecured for the project up until a year ago. Covered in the 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program, total costs are estimated to be $49 million.
- Project development and design, $2.5 million
- Property/right-of-way acquisition, $14 million
- Utility relocation, $4.5 million
- Construction, $28 million
The timeline to complete Gordon Road’s widening is scheduled for spring 2024, with the environmental document completed by spring 2022. The construction is projected to affect 473 linear feet of streams, five stream crossings, 0.2 acres of the 100-year floodplan and 0.3 acres of the 500-year floodplan. Its noise impact is unknown.
Fourteen residences will need to be relocated due to the expansion, with the right-of-way acquisition taking place in summer 2022. Construction will then be completed within two years, according to projections.
Individuals can register for the Gordon Road Widening Virtual Public Meeting to be held Dec. 7, 6 p.m.: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8226192375104722191. After registering, a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar will be sent.
To call into the meeting, dial 415-930-5321 and use audio access code 774-815-240.
Comments made online and received by Jan. 3 on the preliminary design will be considered in the final design.
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