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Private developers could expand Brunswick County road

BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- It's an interesting way to have developers help pave the way for growth. In rapidly growing Brunswick County commissioners Monday night endorsed a plan to have private developers help the state build a four lane extension to long beach road. The state has plans to build a two lane extension in that area. But Brunswick County commissioners don't think it will be big enough and want to bring in outside help. Shelley Lesher is mayor of St. James -- a small town in Brunswick County near the intersection of Long Beach Road and Highway 211 "It is not peaceful anymore at that intersection. It is a zoo," Lesher said. Lesher is one of many in the area in favor of a four lane extension proposed by private developers. On Monday night the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners unanimously endorsed the proposal that would partner the developers with the state Department of Transportation -- a partnership that may be unprecedented. Brunswick County Commissioner May Moore said, "This is something that to my knowledge that has not been done." Developers' engineering consultant Gene Conti said, "It's innovative. There is some risk involved and we understand that. But we believe we can deliver a better project at a cheaper cost to the state." Conti says the state is paying twenty five million dollars to build a two lane extension. He says developers can build one twice the size and for the same cost. The question now is whether the state will be on board. Lesher said, "Anything that moves the traffic around more quickly will be a benefit to all of us." Moore said, "If we can move forward and get a four-lane road where we need a four-lane road in a few years, we're going to be very much ahead." The state's two-lane proposal is scheduled to break ground in 2009. Developers say if they get the proper permits they could start even sooner.

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