Ground broken today on new Hampstead bypass aimed to help relieve congestion

After years of planning and obstacles, work is finally set to begin on a two-phase bypass around Hampstead.

WILMINGTON, N.C (WWAY) –Excitement was in the air this morning in Hampstead for the first steps of the long-awaited bypass. Those in attendance say they are optimistic about the benefits that the change will bring.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, more than 40 thousand vehicles travel down Highway-17 through Hampstead each day.

After years of planning, ground was finally broken Friday on a new bypass aimed to relieve some of the congestion.

Phase one will connect Highway-17 to NC-210, with phase two to connect the bypass to 140 scheduled for late 2026.

Highway-17 association executive director Marc Finlayson says the complexity of the project has made this a lengthy process.

“It takes at least 10 years to conceive of it, to go through the planning, the design, permitting, right of way, construction processes… all of that has to happen before you can drive on it.”

NCDOT Division Engineer Chad Kimes says the road still has years until it’s ready for drivers, but will provide residents and visitors multiple benefits.

“If you have a wreck, it gives you a second way to have access in and out around Hampstead. You’re also going to be taking about 50 percent of the existing traffic off of US-17 with this bypass.”

State Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette says they have listened to concerns from the public when deciding the best course of action to take.

Boyette says funding for the construction was secured in 2017, but a number of factors has slowed the forward movement of the 13-mile, 4-lane project.

“Through COVID, through cost-escalations, through the things we’re seeing, each and everyone one of us in our homes. We see the same thing in our transportation network. So it is, it’s a great day for all of us.”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says that despite the delays, the project is beginning ahead of schedule, with an original target start date of 4 years from now.

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