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DOT projects dropped or delayed

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WILMINGTON -- Thanks to new cost estimates from the Department of Transportation drivers waiting for improved road conditions in southeastern North Carolina will have to wait longer. $100 million worth of DOT projects must be dropped or delayed. DOT officials say increased cost of construction materials like asphalt, concrete, and steel is the main reason projects are costing more. They haven't yet decided which projects will be dropped or delayed in the six local counties this affects. The estimated costs of several projects have significantly increased since last estimates were calculated, including widening Kerr Avenue, improving the Oleander and College intersection, and fixing the surf city bridge. The intersection of South College Road and Oleander Drive is one of many headaches for local drivers. Leland resident Terry Paterson said, "That has to be about the worst intersection I've ever gone through." And DOT officials know it. Improving the intersection is among the projects the DOT hopes to accomplish. The problem is, the department has to cut out $100 million worth of projects in six local counties. Division construction engineer Joe Blair said, "It is very disappointing that we've got this problem, and it's a tough problem to deal with. The folks that have to make those tough decisions did not have an easy job." The DOT sites several reasons for increased project costs: a growing demand on the system, declining funding, aging infrastructure, and most importantly, increasing cost of supplies. "With a global demand for materials, for construction materials, asphalt, concrete and steel, the prices are just increasing significantly," Blair said. The DOT hasn't decided which projects will be dropped or delayed, but that's just a matter of time. "It's really shame in an area that's growing so quickly, in the Wilmington and southeast North Carolina where the infrastructure is not keeping up to the developments," Blair said. Wilmington resident Ricky King said, "All of Market Street and College, it's just terrible. I mean, traffic is always backed up on there, especially during lunchtime."

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