Road projects may cause delays as Seahawks return


Travis Stoker

Construction on Kerr Avenue.

Tyler Newman, Assistant News Editor

Continuing and upcoming road projects in and around New Hanover County could keep new and returning Seahawks snarled in traffic this academic year.

While many who are returning to UNC Wilmington are aware of the traffic issues that can arise on many of Wilmington’s busy thoroughfares and arterial roads – especially at rush hour – some first-year or transfer students may be unaware.

As New Hanover County continues to grow in population, so does the number of cars on the road. When that happens, infrastructure upgrades are necessary to keep traffic flowing and to allow further growth to continue.

Such infrastructure and road upgrades are in progress or just beginning at this time, with the purpose being to alleviate congestion on major arteries and allow new routes to be taken to destinations around the region.

The first major road project that would most likely affect students would be the widening of Kerr Avenue.

The 1.5-mile project, which began back in 2016, is expected to be wrapped up by November of this year, with final improvements slated for spring of next year.

The goal of the project? To widen the stretch of Kerr Avenue from Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to Patrick Avenue. After completion, the road should consist of four travel lanes – upgraded from two – bicycle lanes, a landscaped median and sidewalks.

According to data gathered by the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Area in 2017, the average traffic count on Kerr Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Patrick Avenue is about 23,007 vehicles.

Students traveling to and from off-campus apartment complexes such as Aspen Heights, Progress 910, Aspire 349, Camden Forest and Mill Creek may be affected by construction along Kerr until the completion date later this year.

Another hotspot in the Wilmington metro area that has just begun breaking ground is at the intersection of Military Cutoff Road and Market Street, northeast of the city limits along U.S. Highway 17.

The project, an extension of Military Cutoff Road from Market Street to Interstate 140, is expected for completion in 2022. The 4.1-mile limited access roadway will be a six-lane corridor aiming to relieve congestion on Market Street through Ogden.

For travelers and students coming to Wilmington or UNCW from points north such as Hampstead, Jacksonville, and New Bern, they may run into some delays over the coming year as lane closures and shifts will begin to take effect.

With the Military Cutoff corridor booming in recent years, and more developments under construction, the traffic count for the roadway will increase, leading to the need for upgrades and new roadways.

Eventually, the new road is expected to connect to a U.S. 17 bypass around Hampstead, further assisting in alleviating growing congestion in coastal Pender County.

A final project of note reached completion earlier this year on the western side of the Wilmington metro area. The final link of Interstate 140 was completed, connecting U.S. 17 in Brunswick County to Porter’s Neck in New Hanover County.

With this completion, traffic has been easily able to bypass the city of Wilmington from the south or north. Travelers and students driving up from Brunswick County, Myrtle Beach or Charleston will be able to travel around the city and connect to College Road via I-40, allowing much quicker access to UNCW and surrounding environs.

In the near future, intersection revamps are planned for the intersections of College Road and Oleander Drive as well as Market Street and Eastwood Road.