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Head of Wilmington Metro Planning Organization Explains Transportation Bond

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR
The City of Wilmington has posted signs throughout town highlighting proposed transportation improvements. This sign notifies drivers and pedestrians of possible enhancements to Front Street.

Wilmington voters will decide on a 44 million dollar transportation bond this November. But what will this bond do? WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd spoke with Mike Kozlosky, Executive Director of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, regarding the bond, which would help fund projects totaling $55 million. 

IS: You’ve been here all today and for all of the meetings regarding this transportation bond. Have you seen a lot of citizens come out? What’s it been like?

MK: We’ve had a very good turnout at these meetings. The desire of the City is to educate the community on the transportation bond that will be on the ballot in November.

IS: Do citizens seem excited, nervous? Are they worried about taxes?

MK: I think we’ve got a mix of responses to the proposal.

IS: What are the main goals of this transportation bond?

MK: The intention of this transportation bond is… We have 238 million dollars worth of needs over the next ten years. And what we did is, we looked at our long-range plans, and a committee was developed to whittle down that list of projects into what the Council felt the citizens of this community could support, which was a two cent property tax increase. The intention is to improve traffic flow, to improve safety, to improve walkability and bikability throughout the city.

IS: What effects will drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists see as a result of this transportation bond?

MK: What we’ll see is new capacity roadways, such as Hurst Drive extension and the additional access into the Love Grove community. They’ll see intersection improvements and additional capacity at those intersections. They’ll also see safety improvements with improved crosswalks, as well as the implementation of sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and multiuse trails throughout the city.

IS: How will this affect people’s taxes, and how did you determine that two cents was an appropriate figure, was a figure that citizens could handle?

MK: The impact would be a two cent property tax increase, which is, for a home of two hundred thousand dollars, about forty dollars per year, or it equates to three dollars and thirty-four cents per month. That was something that the mayor’s committee for the potential transportation bond had evaluated and looked at the list of projects as well as the needs that we have and considered that versus what they had gauged as what they felt the community could support.

IS: Thank you for putting that in perspective. So what if the bond does not pass? What are other options and alternatives moving forward to achieve similar goals?

MK: We’ve got to look at our long-range transportation plans as we move forward. There are opportunities to partner with NC DOT. Some streets in the city are NC DOT roadways, some are city roadways. Even if the bond passes, we will continue to look and work with the Department to try to fund these transportation improvements.

IS: Some critics may say that we have deeper infrastructure issues to address first. What would you say to that?

MK: Well, I think we acknowledge that we have a large number of transportation improvements that need to be made in this community. If you look, we had over two hundred and thirty-eight million dollars of needs over the next ten years and probably over five hundred million dollars worth of needs over the next 20 years. And that’s excluding the Cape Fear Crossing Project, which is a huge link between New Hanover and Brunswick counties. And so, we recognize that this is only a piece of our overall needs, but we need to really chip away at this; otherwise, we’re going to be experiencing gridlock.

IS: I see. And how will this overall benefit the economy of Wilmington?

MK: How this will improve commerce is, if you can’t get through or around the city, then it’s very difficult to attract business to the city.

IS: Thank you very much for speaking with me, Mike.

MK: Thank you.   

The City has posted signs detailing proposed improvements next to the roadways that would be affected if the bond passes. The transportation bond will appear as a Yes/No vote on the November 4th General Election ballot. Voter registration ends this Friday, October 10th