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bypass300.jpg Submitted by Nadine Maeser on Mon, 01/03/2011 - 9:36pm.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Alleviating traffic between Brunswick and New Hanover County has been a priority for almost a decade. New Hanover County Commissioners agreed Monday night to let the North Carolina Department of Transportation step in to help solve the traffic problem. Commissioners voted to let the DOT explore funding options for the Wilmington Bypass but that doesn't necessarily mean the department will help out. County commissioners agree traffic congestion is not getting any better in our area. "There's no doubt about it," said New Hanover County Commissioner Jason Thompson. "If Brunswick County wants continued growth we have to do something about the traffic between the two. If not everything is going to move to Hampstead and Pender County and that's why the Pender County Commissioners are glad to see the debate over the Skyway Bridge because it all moves their way." Commissioners voted unanimously to have the DOT explore funding options for the bypass. The department might explore different options to help speed up building the rest of I-140 across the Cape Fear River into Brunswick County. The vote is a step in the right direction. "To get the return on investment you have to complete the road," said Rick Catlin, the county's newest commissioner. "Having it 99% finished or 75% finished and that last piece missing means the money we've spent isn't doing everything it can for us. I think the sooner the better." The bypass will help reduce the heavy congestion in our area. Commissioners say it's a problem they are well aware of. "I've had so many emails and phone calls over the ten years I've been an elected official when I was with the city of Wilmington saying do something about this bridge," said Thompson. "You're out there for four hours if a truck breaks down and all this kind of stuff so I understand their pain. I rarely cross it for that very reason." It will also provide a third way for drivers to cross the Cape Fear between the two neighboring counties. "I've watched the road systems develop over the years," said County Manager Bruce Shell. "Back when we fought for I-40 to come here this is a very similar thing. Anything that relieves congestion is good for the people that live here and the people that want to visit." Some of the possible funding options include using money from the Mobility Fund that was passed last year.

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