By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
NEW HANOVER CTY – The North Carolina Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting July 22nd, to hear public input on proposals to extend Independence Boulevard by 1.7 miles from Randall Parkway to U.S. 74 (Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) in Wilmington.
According to NCDOT, the purpose of the extension is to improve connectivity and capacity by providing an additional four-lane, north-south corridor. This would be the third north-south connection in the city, and the only one to be in central Wilmington.
Currently the two major north-south traffic routes are College Road and 3rd Street. Drivers often use other streets between those two corridors which places an additional burden on area intersections. The proposal is to create a third major north-south corridor by extending Independence Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.
According to NCDOT officials, “Since 1972, Wilmington has proposed widening and extending Independence Boulevard in the project area to better connect major east-west routes and to accommodate increasing traffic. Currently, College Road is the only major north-south roadway that connects all of the main east-west routes in Wilmington, but the volume of traffic on is already challenged, and the highway can’t easily be widened because of development along the roadway.”
A narrative for the project explains, “Kerr Avenue is another north-south roadway in the area that NCDOT has proposed widening, but the proposed improvements do not provide the length of continuous north-south connectivity that is provided by College Avenue. Kerr Avenue would be widened from two to four lanes and would involve adding a new interchange at Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and a “quadrant” style intersection with Market Street. Even with the proposed improvements to Kerr Avenue, traffic projections indicate there is still a need for additional north-south connectivity and a road that can carry large volumes of traffic. Extending Independence Boulevard as an additional, north-south road would provide more capacity to handle increasing traffic.”
The NCDOT project team will also consider overpasses, intersection improvements and interchanges at multiple locations along the proposed route. According to NCDOT, “Additional lanes along Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway might also be needed for continuous connection with nearby interchanges at Kerr Avenue and 23rd Street. The project also includes two proposed CSX railroad crossings.”
NCDOT has created a website that shows two alternatives for the project. You can view those plans at https://www.ncdot.gov/news/public-meetings/Pages/U-4434-2019-07-22.aspx
This project is listed as Project U-4434 in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s State Transportation Improvement Program and is funded for $159.8 million.
For additional information or to submit comments, please contact Krista Kimmell at 5501 Barbados Boulevard, Castle Hayne, NC 28429. You can also contact the project team through their toll-free hotline 1-800-233-6315.
Those who do not speak English, or have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English, may receive interpretive services upon request prior to the meeting by calling 1-800-481-6494.