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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - State and local leaders are looking for a solution to our area's projected transportation troubles. Wednesday afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Transportation met with the Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Advisory Committee in Wilmington to talk about how to keep traffic flowing over the Cape Fear River.
A population boom in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties are increasing traffic over the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. In 2035, it's estimated that 100,000 vehicles a day will cross the bridge. Right now, around 49,000 cross daily.
According to the NCDOT, the bridge isn't big enough to handle all of that traffic.
In an overview to the committee, Bobby Lewis, the Chief of Staff for the NCDOT, laid out some of the options.
A new bridge is one of the options. However, that plan, commonly referred to as the Skyway Bridge, carries a price tag of up to $1 billion.
Another proposal involves building an eight-lane toll bridge right next to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, with a similar design as the current structure. That plan could cost around $500 million.
Another plan calls for a new four-lane bridge to be built next to the Memorial Bridge and re-fit the current structure, so there are four lanes inbound and four lanes outbound.
Mike Koslosky, who is the executive director of the MPO, said all of the options are going to be costly because the NCDOT can only provide so much funding for the projects.
"There's no doubt that there's a lot of money that we are talking about here. However, in order to move people across the river, it is going to be a costly venture whether you look at an existing facility or a new location facility."
State and local leaders have been talking about what to do about this pending problem since 2003. However, Koslosky, said projects like these are usually slow moving. He points to the Martin Luther King Bypass, which was originally proposed in the 1960s and only completed in the 2000s.
Lewis indicated that he wants local leaders to direct the agency on what kind of bridge they would like to see here.
Members of the group expressed frustration that they didn't have enough information to give the DOT direction today.
They asked the DOT to come back for an in-depth workshop on the bridges soon, where the committee can get a side-by-side comparison of all of the options that are on the table and move forward from there.
That meeting has not been scheduled yet.
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