NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Local leaders Tuesday celebrated the culmination of a years-long project to extend Cape Fear Public Utility Authority services to a key industrial corridor in New Hanover County.
County leaders and CFPUA officials held a ribbon-cutting Tuesday for the U.S. 421 Water and Wastewater Utilities Expansion Project. The event was held at CFPUA Pump Station 159, one of several pieces of infrastructure built during the project, along with 35,000 feet of water main and 36,000 feet of sewer main.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman said Tuesday that the 2014 county-commissioned report “Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment” identified water and wastewater services as critical to attracting industries like manufacturing and research facilities.
“Today is about more than pipes and pump stations,” she said. “It is about smart economic growth, providing the private sector with the infrastructure they need to thrive, and looking forward to the future to ensure our community, our region has all it needs to thrive.”
The expansion provides water and sewer infrastructure to 982 developable acres along the U.S. 421 corridor from just north of the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Pender County line. Despite two hurricanes striking during construction, the project came in on-schedule and on-budget in November.
The project – including planning, design and construction — cost $15.5 million, and construction involved boring under the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to Eagles Island. New Hanover County furnished $1.6 million for fire suppression services in the corridor, including 31 new fire hydrants, and the City of Wilmington provided easements critical to building the sewer force main.
While engineering for the project began in August 2015, County Commissioner and CFPUA Board Member Rob Zapple noted that extending utilities along U.S. 421 had been a goal of local leaders for decades.
“Like most things in life, it took partnerships,” Zapple said.
“And today’s celebration is as much about opening up the 421 corridor for immediate development as it is about demonstrating the power that comes to our community when New Hanover County teams up with CFPUA, our state legislature, Duke Energy, Wilmington Business Development and the City of Wilmington to make a project like this become a reality.”
County commissioners say this project will provide thousands of jobs for decades to come.
“We need working class jobs for people who don’t have a college education, for trades,” Olson-Boseman said. “That’s what we’re doing. We’re investing in New Hanover County and it’s citizens. We’re going to do everything we can to bring that unemployment rate down and our folks have really good paying jobs in New Hanover County.”
They say these jobs won’t just be for CEO’s and business owners but the working class as well.