WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Opinions differ on plans to bridge the gap between Brunswick and New Hanover Counties. Preliminary maps were released just this week for the proposed Skyway project, which means some residents got a glimpse at the future of their homes.
Leland is expected to have a population of 100,000 people by 2050. That’s similar to the size of Wilmington today. Some say creating the 9.5 miles of a toll-road for the billion-dollar Skyway project, including a state-of-the-art high-rise bridge, connecting two neighboring counties would be worth the money. Leland Mayor Walter Futch says the plan gives residents no options.
“I think it’s taken the focus off of projects that we can do, and it’s moved a lot of projects that we could have done otherwise back in the whole scheme of things,” Futch said.
Mike Kozlosky is the Executive Director of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. He says to meet the demand planners will have to find a new way to connect Brunswick and New Hanover Counties, but in doing so they would have to rip homes and land out from underneath the people that own them.
“If they look at growth and development and project it out over that period, there’s identified need for another crossing across the Cape Fear River, and this proposed project will provide that improved crossing,” Kozlosky said.
That means at least 50 structures on 100 pieces of property in New Hanover County and 36 more parcels in Brunswick County. Futch says there has to be another way.
“I think it will be some sort of monument, but I’m afraid its going to be a monument of stupidity instead of a monument to roads and travel,” Futch said.
Regardless, the Skyway project is still years away from starting if it gets the funding it needs. Kozlosky emphasized these are still preliminary plans, so the map could change. The Skyway map will be discussed again on August 18 at the Transportation Advisory Committee’s next meeting.