NHC showcases trail and transit improvement plans on new website

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – New Hanover County has created a new website to explain the projects and planned service improvements if the quarter-cent increase in transportation sales tax is passed in the November election. The increase would be 25 cents per $100 and would not apply to groceries, fuel, prescriptions and other tax-exempt sales.

The county notes that these types of sales taxes are used statewide to help make significant improvements to non-road projects. While NCDOT provides a small amount for other projects, their primary spending focus is elsewhere. More than 90% of NCDOT’s expenditures are devoted to the construction and maintenance of highways.

Improvements for bicycles and pedestrians

About 39%, or about $56 million over 10 years, would be spent on various pedestrian improvements. In the first five years, the county plans to build more than 10 miles of new multi-use pathways, five new sidewalks and nine improved crosswalks/intersections.

A few of the multi-use trails planned for the first five years include a 2.2-mile trail from 3rd Street to the Love Grove Bridge, a 2.5-mile N College Road trail from Gordon Road to Northcase Parkway, and a S trail from 2.5 miles. 17th Street Road Trail at Monkey Junction. In Wilmington, sidewalks could be added along Medical Center Drive, Cardinal Drive, Oriole Drive, Wilshire Blvd and College Acres Drive.

Wave Transit improvements

Bus Wave Transit(WECT)

A significant portion of the funding, 45% or approximately $65 million over 10 years, will go towards various improvements to Wave. Shortly after the tax is passed, the funding could help hire additional staff to extend hours on various routes. According to the TrailsTransitNHC website:

  • Extend weekday hours on high-productivity routes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Extend Saturday hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Extend Sunday hours to start at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. and end at 8 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

Wave will have three routes with 30-minute frequencies starting in July, but by 2024 the county plans to have three more routes with 30- to 45-minute frequencies. By 2027, two more routes would have frequencies of 30 to 45 minutes.

Wave would also increase youth discounts: free transit passes for anyone under 17 for extracurricular activities, classes or work.

Rail realignment

Initially, 16% of the sales tax would be used to fund portions of the rail realignment project. In the first five years, the focus is on moving the rail tracks from Front Street South to the west side of the road. In addition to removing two railroad crossings, the realignment would allow the county to expand the road from two lanes to four lanes and add a multi-use trail.

You can find an interactive map of priority projects on the new TrailsTransitNHC website. The website was announced in a county press release on June 23.

A map of TrialsTransitNHC with pink lines to increase the frequency of bus lines and blue lines...
A map of TrialsTransitNHC with pink lines for increased frequency of bus routes and blue lines for new trails.(TrailsTransitNHC)

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