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The Long And Winding Road To Cape Fear Crossing

Cape Fear Crossing, the proposed new bridge across the Cape Fear River, is inching closer to reality. Last week, regional planners held informational meetings in Brunswick County. Residents in attendance wanted to learn more about a project that will likely go through Leland and Brunswick Forest. The exact route is still up in the air.

The bridge will be tall. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, some 215 feet above the water to accommodate ship traffic heading to the Port.

Most of the current proposals have it crossing the river south of the port, its four to six lanes connecting Brunswick County with either Shipyard or Independence Boulevard in New Hanover County.

At last week’s information meeting in Leland, residents told local leaders that a highway through the community would destroy quality of life and have negative economic consequences.

Meanwhile on the Wilmington side of the river, residents in the areas that may be impacted are not happy either.

“It's very congested in rush hour. Yes. It's increased considerably.”

That’s Jean. She lives along Independence Boulevard, between River and Carolina Beach Roads. She says traffic is bad enough.

“And at 8:00 in the morning when I'm trying to turn right to go to work, I have to wait for somebody, let me out because of the backup with the red lights, you know, at independence and Carolina Beach Road.”

Standing on his porch along Shipyard Boulevard, another possible bridge landing spot, Josh says he’s opposed to the idea.

“Oh no definitely not. I don't like it in the way it is right now. Too much traffic. It’s going to be hard for me to get back and forth to work and get where I got to go.”

The new bridge would ease traffic on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, according to the DOT.  Officials estimate the cost at $1 billion.

Mike Kozlosky, executive director of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, spoke at last week’s meeting in Brunswick County. The WMPO is one of several agencies with a say in where the bridge will go.

“The MPO board back in 2017 supported alternatives, M-A and N-A as the MPO boards preferred alternatives, but you know, we will carry that recommendation forward to the merger team. But again, we're only one of a number of agencies that are part of the decision making process to select the route.”

Those two routes are near the Port of Wilmington.

“Those routes are the more southerly alternatives. Both of the alternatives connect to 17, where I-140 ties in and then, one of the alternatives ties in at Shipyard Boulevard and the other alternative ties in at Carolina Beach Road and Independence Boulevard.”

Jean on Independence realizes a bridge is needed.

“I would prefer that it goes, you know, I don't have a problem because I know that they need a bridge, but not on my street.”

A lot has to happen before a route is finalized.

This spring there will be a public comment period. This summer, a preferred route will be selected. A final environmental impact statement is due in the spring of 2020, and then a final decision is likely by summer of next year. Construction is still as many as ten years away.

Vince Winkel, WHQR News. 

Visit the NC DOT Cape Fear Crossing Information Page Here

Learn more about the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization