WILMINGTON -- The region's most ambitious road project, the $300 million Wilmington bypass, is set to being in 2012. Last night people had the chance to see plans for the new highway that will connect US 17 in Brunswick County with 421 in New Hanover County. And while many people think the road is needed, some who looked at the plans did not like what they saw. Victoria Zelenka moved to Leland with her husband three years ago from New York. Now she's afraid a proposed DOT highway right next to her development could jeopardize their most important investment. Zelenka said, "Our main concern is we have hundreds of homes in Snee Farms and Stoney Creek Lane. What's going to happen to our front entrances? What's going to happen to our property values? Where do we go?" But Brunswick County resident Leta Awtry was ready to sell her land to the state to expedite the construction of the bypass. Awtry said, "I just think that it's ten years too late coming. There's so much addition to the population here and it just seems like it's stymied." The proposed extension would run from highway 17 in Leland, north of the 87 intersection, to US 421 in New Hanover County. The goal is to allow more cars to travel through Brunswick County and do so more quickly. It will also facilitate hurricane evacuations. Even with the positives, residents like Zelenka want to know why it has to be so close to her home. "I realize we need roads," Zelenka said. "The county needs roads. We need the bypass. But there are so many areas of empty land they could've built in that they didn't have to put it directly in front of our homes." Allen Pope with the NC DOT said, "Unfortunately, there's not a road we can build that we don't have some negative impact on some folks. What we can do is minimize those impacts." The DOT will be buying and relocating 16 homes and nine businesses for the highway. One other note, this project is not associated with the proposed Cape Fear Skyway Bridge.
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