NCDOT holds meeting over Independence Blvd. expansion

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It will create a faster option for people to go north out of Wilmington.

The Independence Boulevard expansion was the topic of a public meeting in Wilmington Monday night. It will reshape the Market Street, Covil Avenue corridor but also impact dozens of side streets and homes.

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“I understand what they need they need another north-south throughway,” said neighbor Bobby Whitaker. “But again I’m asking that they just don’t take advantage of the residents there.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation proposes to extend Independence Boulevard (S.R. 1209) by 1.7 miles from Randall Parkway to U.S. 74 (Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) in Wilmington. The purpose of the project is to improve connectivity and capacity by providing an additional four-lane, north-south corridor that would provide an increase in the overall traffic capacity within Central Wilmington.

To accomplish this, Covil and Montgomery Avenues need to be changed. DOT plans to widen them, cut off certain side streets and raise the road. It will also lead to multiple interchanges at Market St. and MLK Jr. Parkway.

“There are parts of Covil that are going to have impacts and will have property that will need to be purchased for the project and there’s other parts of Covil that will remain,” said project manager Krista Kimmel.

The project will cost more than $150 million and require land from Wayne Drive to Darlington Avenue along Market Street. Overpasses will go over Darlington Avenue, Princess Place Drive, and Hurst Streets.

Some businesses and homeowners WWAY heard from understand progress will come at a price. For Whitaker, who lives along Montgomery Avenue, he just hopes the price is fair.

The Independence Blvd. interchange at MLK Jr. Parkway (Andrew James/WWAY)

“The right of way people that I’ve talked to so far say they’re going to the right by it,” said Whitaker. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

The opportunity to submit written comments will be provided at the meeting or can be submitted via phone, email or at ​NCDOT’s public input portal by August 19.