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Cape Fear 2020: New Hanover County traffic

WILMINGTON -- For eight years running New Hanover County has been rated the most dangerous county in the state in which to drive. AAA says New Hanover County has more accidents per miles driven than any of the state's 100 counties. Police say the amount of traffic on the road is the main contributing factor, and with the population on the rise it's only going to get worse. The waiting, the back-ups, the frustrations... Frustrated driver Charita Perry said, "It's busy. It doesn't flow; it causes a lot of wrecks." The Highway Patrol says it's simply unsafe. NC Highway Patrol First Sgt. J.O. Holmes said, "For such a small place the traffic is unbelievable right now. It's hard to actually get out in and enforce the laws because you can't safely turn around on vehicles all the time." Taxi driver Joe Brown said, "From about 5:30 in the morning to about 6:30 at night, you have outrageous tragic." According to the city's 2007 Citizen and Staff survey, more than half of you agree. When asked what the city could improve upon 41 percent of people surveyed say they're generally less satisfied with the management of storm water runoff; 42 percent were less satisfied with the maintenance of city streets; 43 percent aren't satisfied with the quality of city water and waste water utilities. But an overwhelming 61 percent of us know the real issue: traffic flow on city streets. According to the survey, management of traffic on city streets needs the most attention. Driver Christina Koch said, "In Wilmington I think they should have planned it out a little better. I don't think they expected it to grow so big and it's just the roads need to expand or something because it's pretty hectic and there are a lot of accidents." If it's frustrating now for drivers to take to the open road, imagine what its going to be like in 2020. City traffic officials say there's no quick fix to solving the congestion problem. City Traffic Engineer Don Bennett said, "When we look at addressing our transportation needs within the year 2020, we realize that we can not build our way out of this, we're going to have a multi-faceted approach addressing our transportation needs."

Future projects...

There are a few road projects on the horizon, including the next phase of the Wilmington I-140 bypass that will run from 421 to 74/76. Also, a two-way interchange loop to alleviate traffic at the city's busiest intersection, Oleander and College. A widening of Kerr Avenue between MLK and Randall is also funded. But maybe the most widespread improvement will be a new traffic signal system that would update the outdated technology that currently times our lights. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said, "This will mean less waiting at stop lights and better synchronization at stop lights. We're spending $9 million to do it." City traffic engineers say the system was state-of-the-art in 1985, and they're about 50 percent of the way through updating it to 2008 technology. Bennett said, "It will be software controlled, so they can keep the equipment the same, and then just update the software so the next upgrade won't have to be as labor intensive." City traffic engineers say if the city could build roads with unlimited funding they couldn't do it fast enough to keep up with the growing amount of traffic. Even so, drivers and city officials a like say that isn't the solution. Driver Ophard Willis said, "The traffic is going to be crazy in Wilmington in the year 2020. We've got to have some better roads or this place is going to be one big parking lot."

A different solution...

Cape Fear Breeze coordinator Lawless Bean said, "At some point we have to make a decision about what our vision truly is for the future. And do we want a community that's going to be covered in pavement, or do we want to preserve the environment that drew us all here?" In fact, the solution to the traffic issue may lie with you. The city has teamed up with a grassroots organization called Cape Fear Breeze to help people carpool to work and find alternative modes of transportation. And for the first time in 17 years, the city is offering free bike maps if you want to go by two wheels. The hope going forward is for less cars on the road, while making the future of our city a little greener along the way. If you're interested in carpooling, riding your bike or finding alternative modes of transportation around town you can visit You can calculate the cost of your commute and how much you can save if you chose to leave the car at home.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


It's all our faults.....

We complain constantly about the roads and the drivers using them but we are not willing to raise tax's and have referendoms to pay for the upgrades. And it's not just the voters but our elected officials that fail to act. The county residents, and I am speaking of all New Hanover Co residents, who want to fight annexation do not understand that if you do not contribute now this City will suffer in the long run. And since you use these roads on a daily basis it's the least you can do. If you do not want to live in the METRO area then move to Columbus or Pender Co. I will not expect you to pay if you live that far out. So practice what you preach. Be a leader when it comes to driving safely. If you have to talk on the phone make sure driving is your priority. If you miss your turn, don't swerve into the turn lane. Go down the street, merge over and make a u-turn. What is so important that you can't just reroute yourself. If it is that important then that means you are in the back of an ambulance. Try to see beyond the next intersection and plan your drive accordingly. Our driving habits and failure to push for better roads have put us in the position we are in today. Co. Commissioner Greer said yesterday that it is the DOT's responsiblity to build roads. Not true, we can be progressive we just have to take the initative. We are not the only city in NC and the DOT is fully aware of that. Think outside the box, or triangle in our case, and find a feasable way to make this area safe for all of us.

After reading all of these

After reading all of these posted comments, I noticed there was nothing mentioned about Police patrol getting beefed up by anyone. Why???? Don't you all think this would help (Police Patrolling more) to a degree when it comes to the Police busting idiot drivers out there weaving through lanes,speeding, etc.???????

In order for more police,

In order for more police, the government needs to give them more money to hire police...and for some reason they won't do it.


The traffic in Wilmington is a big problem. Because many of our roads are clogged with traffic, some drivers opt to "cut-through" neighborhoods to get to their destinations. Gone are the days of quiet neighborhood streets. I live in a development that is a "cut-through" and it is very frustrating at times to back out of the driveway. Drivers do not obey the speed limit and pay little attention to the safety of others. Wilmington needs solutions to its traffic woes throughout the city and county. Development is out of control and has created more traffic than our roads can handle. You have to be a defensive driver to last on Wilmington streets, and then suffer higher car insurance premiums for being a Wilmington,NC driver. What a mess!


The problem is that the city builds first,then worries about traffic. Eastwood rood is the next death trap due to the building of Autumn Hall. The speed limit needs to be reduced. There are homes,churches and businesses on Eastwood that are suffering. Buildings for lease on all major roads and the city still feels the need to clear all the trees and keep building.

Do Nothing till there is NO Other Way

This appears to be our area motto. Let's throw the sewer system in on that one. How would you say that in Latin, for our new flag? Honestly our ineffectual and dangerous road system (if it even qualifies as a system) is maddening to say the least. Actually we're lucky, that unlike those in California, we seem to be able to control our road rage. Hey maybe gun toting backward southerners (hey this is a joke) are more sophisticated than West Coast urbanites! Back to the subject, the Wilmington area just did not plan for roads. The presiding policy was either cut through a neighborhood, or throw a stoplight at it. Overpasses...simply not done. Our bypasses are designed with long and counter productive stoplights. And I agree with those commenting about the lack of driving skills and driver courtesy on the our roads. Someone once told me that many here drive like they are still on a country road---ALONE. These type drivers are unaware of the driving as a "pack" system, that works well in cities. Here drivers move down the road more safely, more courteously, and more "together." Hey two or three cars on a road here can create a very successful blockade. I've seen it done often. One bright side....we're getting synchronized stoplights. Yea! By the way, excellent, in-depth story by TV3.

My roommate trained for

My roommate trained for biathlons by riding her bike in Wilmington. She was hit twice by drivers who weren't paying attention; one time she was thrown over the bike's handlebars and into the roadway. I have been hit four times driving in NHC by drivers who weren't paying attention. I get nervous driving a car there; no way I'm gonna ride a bike!


NHC is obviously not a good place to be biking, or driving. You have been hit 4 times? Have you considered the possibility that you are in some way responsible??? I'm sure your insurance company has.

Justin America

Actually, no, I don't need to consider it, as I was not at fault--the other drivers weren't paying attention when they ran into me. People, put the cell phones down and drive.

Traffic Problems

"If you're interested in carpooling, riding your bike or finding alternative modes of transportation around town you can visit You can calculate the cost of your commute and how much you can save if you chose to leave the car at home". Are they serious???? Ride a bike in this town??? With the way people drive around here????? There are not that many bike routes to be able to ride a bike safetly, come on we don't live in a quaint English village, where people walk and ride bikes. Carpooling??? That's all fine and dandy if you can find someone that lives in the same community as you and drives to the same area for work. But, in reality, with kids after school activities and work, most people cannot carpool.


It would help if people riding bicycles would obey the traffic laws, For example not going straight from a right or left hand turn lane and not going through red lights.

I enjoy

I enjoy the bike riders and moped riders that complain for "equal space" on the roads but then don't follow traffic laws. Mopeds are ONLY to be at the edge of the road, not in the middle of a lane slowing down traffic. Those damn things should be outlawed. The riders don't have insurance, licenses or require license plates.


The congestion is bad enough, but the attitudes of the drivers are the biggest problems. I see a total lack of respect to other drivers on the roads. There are drivers who obviosly think they are the only ones on the roads and care not that their actions create more problems. Weaving in and out of traffic, driving down a lane that is going to run out and than forcing themselves back into the flow of traffic, causing the traffic to back up worse than it already is. Not paying attention to what they are doing by talking on the phone, reading, combing hair, putting on makeup, and my all time favorite is eating, drinking and talking on the phone. Playing their music so load it rattles the windows in vehicles one block away, which only wears on ones already shot nerves from the traffic. I could go on, but I think you should get the drift.

Lack of Driver Respect

I completely agree about the disrespect of the drivers. I was pulling out of Sunset Park onto Carolina Beach Road and the car on the right side of the intersection stopped (i always check before pulling out) and once on CBR I looked in my rear view mirror and this Honda Accord wagon just went right through her red light. As we got down to Greenfield Lake, at the speed she was going I thought she was going to take out the median. The Semi-trucks in this are are even worse. They have no clue about what a red light is or what 35 or a 45MPH speed limit is. As for traffic...i really don't think it's that bad. I do see it getting worse since it seems like nothing is being done about it now to fix it for the future.

One Word About NHC Traffic...

S-U-C-K-S !!!


The traffic situation is due to a big part because of the traffic light situation. They are not calibrated. On all main Rds. Oleander, Market, College and Eastwood all the way to MLK Parkway you get stopped at every light. If you speed you can make the light green. The city knows it. DOT knows it. We passed a bond referudum for traffic light improvement and as usual nothing has changed. We pay and pay and receive nothing. Pretty much our government at no work. In fact they need to place no work signs in front of the traffic department!

Traffic management????

A major traffic management strategy in Wilmington...throw a stoplight at it....or as someone also suggested, lower the speed limit. I guess, cutting thru a neighborhood is, finally, not an option. Let's try this one: Built some properly planned roadways that handle the traffic flow. Hey, we pay enough taxes to deserve roads. Roads are the most basic service our taxes were meant to deliver. In fact, I believe the first taxes in this country were collected to build roadways? Let's ask for what we pay, and demand leadership from our leaders.