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Work begins to widen highway between Wilmington, Leland

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LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- Big changes are coming on the roads in Brunswick County.

It might not look like much right now, but by the end of next year US 17/74/76 will go from four lanes to six between Wilmington and Leland.

The nearly $55 million Causeway Widening Project will shift traffic on US 17/74/76 out to build a concrete median adding one extra lane in each direction.

"That I'm going to love," Leland resident Allan Royall said. "That's going to be great."

Click here to see a detailed map of the project

This means bridge work must be done as well. NCDOT Division Construction Engineer Jackson Provost says there will be lane closures, but none during the day.

"Hopefully it is just at nighttime," Provost said. "I mean we've heard so many stories about, OK, they're only going to work when it's not rush hour, and this and that, and the other thing.'"

The project will also include a diverging diamond interchange to allow two directions of traffic to temporarily cross to the opposite side of the road to provide easier access on and off the highway.

Christine Warnecke of Leland says right now, a two-minute drive can take up to 30 minutes in rush hour traffic, so she can't wait for the project to be done.

"Once that lane gets put through, it will alleviate so much traffic," she said. "Because trying to get in and out of there during the rush hour, and with the merges up there, it's ridiculous."

And she is not the only one dealing with delays.

"In wilmington, coming back, there's been plenty of times where I've got stuck on the isabella bridge or stuck coming back on actual 17, and I'm sitting there waiting for maybe an hour," Royall said.

The causeway project is expected to finish by November 2016.

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Road Work

I remember when it was two lanes back in the early '70's. The traffic from coming from Wilmington during rush hour was awful. It was wonderful when it was four lanes. Now, this will be a welcome change, too.