High priority transportation project in Wilmington is celebrated in Congress

The first phase of the Military Cutoff-Eastwood Road exchange project would introduce a quadrant by extending Drysdale Drive from Landfall to Eastwood Road. (Port City Daily Photo / Courtesy of NCDOT)

WILMINGTON – Recent movements in Washington DC could make life easier for a major road project in Wilmington.

The Invest in America Act, approved by a House Committee last week, is a “five-year, $ 547 billion land transport permit act.” Throughout its formulation, members of the Congress were given ear tags – the ability to enter positions for local needs. The practice has resurfaced after a long moratorium and Rep. David Rouzer devoted his solitary submission to the intersection of Eastwood Road and Military Cutoff Road.

CONTINUE READING: Rouzer asks for $ 3.8 million to help Drysdale Dr. to extend from landfall to Eastwood

If passed, the bill would provide funding for the first phase of an overarching exchange project that has been in the pipeline for years. There is a cul-de-sac called Drysdale Drive that needs to be extended to connect Eastwood and Military Cutoff. It is a precursor to the traffic improvements planned for 2025 that will require extensive road closures.

Drysdale Drive flows out of landfall and ends at a traffic light at the Military Cutoff. The extension would shoot the street around the Eastport single family home and connect it to Eastwood.

“A couple of things play a role,” said Natalie English, president of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

At the time of the transfer work, drivers need an alternative route to the east and south. One doesn’t currently exist, but the expanded Drysdale Drive will take over that role upon completion. Construction of the Drysdale Extension is expected to begin in March 2022 and be completed in the fall of 2023.

“It doesn’t affect the schedule. It only affects the level of security, ”said English. “But it is important that we have to finish Drysdale because it is a critical part of improving the military cutoff Eastwood exchange.”

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The Drysdale project has already been approved to be funded with federal dollars. Mike Koslosky, executive director of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO), said the inclusion in this latest bill gives NC Department of Transportation budgets more flexibility.

“If the project were given a federal earmark, our other federal funds would be released for other purposes,” an NCDOT spokesman previously told Port City Daily.

City and county politicians, NCDOT and the Chamber of Commerce all sent letters of support to Rouzer to support the WMPO’s request for money from the congressman. The requested amount is $ 3.84 million.

“We have identified a more cost-effective project that could have a significant impact on our future transportation infrastructure,” said Koslosky. “It’s one of the [WMPO’s] five priority projects. ”

In a statement, a Wilmington city spokesman said, “The breakdown of funding would be 80 percent of federal funding with 20 percent local state coverage.”

Local governments aren’t the only stakeholders eager to see progress on the Drysdale Drive project and cross-cutting. The developers of the CenterPoint mixed-use project – approved for an apartment complex with 300 units, a hotel with 200 rooms and space for retail, restaurants, medical and office use – will also benefit from the improvements in Drysdale.

According to Koslosky, a condition for CenterPoint development prevents the issuance of receipts for usage until the Drysdale enhancements are installed.

“The developer is committed not to build it until Drysdale is finished. As a result, we have to wait for Drysdale to complete every day, which delays this developer’s ability to complete their project and actually make money, ”said English. “And time is money, but they have said in good faith that they are willing to wait.”

Rouzer was one of two Republicans on NC’s congressional delegation who included transportation in the bill, according to News & Observer. The other was freshman Madison Cawthorn, who represents the westernmost areas of the state, with seven points on the bill. All five NC Democrats included projects in the bill. The six other Republicans made no motions; Some of them have spoken out publicly against the return of ear tags, reported the N&O.

“Investing in our infrastructure is critical to keeping up with the growth to come, no matter what we do,” said English. “We must continue to find ways to secure funding, as is the case, and / or put in place modernized funding mechanisms at the state, local and federal levels to accommodate growth.”

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