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Wilmington City Council Considers Options for North-South Route Through the City

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North Carolina Department of Transportation
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The Independence Boulevard Extension Project from Randall Parkway to the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway was added to the Wilmington Thoroughfare Plan in 1972.

Wilmington needs a better North-South route through the city. But City Council is not yet sold on the current proposal, which would extend Independence Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

A majority of the council members say that the proposed extension of Independence Blvd would turn it into a highway. It would be wider than College Road and elevated, creating overpasses above the city.  Mayor Pro-Tem Margaret Haynes says that the City would like to find some solution to the North-South traffic issue, but that she wants to explore other alternatives, such as a new corridor that would extend 17th Street to 23rd Street, before moving ahead with an environmental impact statement for the Independence Blvd extension: 

"That project is absolutely incompatible with the historic city of Wilmington. It cuts the city in half, directly through midtown. It becomes a massive project, which will simply move people from one end of town to the other. It will do nothing for commerce, and it will certainly negatively impact quality of life for people anywhere nearby."

Councilwoman Laura Padgett notes that other cities are tearing down similar urban freeway systems.  She says the current proposal would set Wilmington back 30-40 years.

Councilman Anderson says he would like to move forward with the proposal in order to gauge public opinion.

The city council voted to continue the matter at its second meeting in November.  The city manager is currently working out a compromise for the resolution.