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Three highway projects key to Port of Wilmington (NC) growth

Interstate 140.

Interstate 74 and US 74 improvements.

Cape Fear Skyway.

What do all three of these projects have in common? Obviously, a number of things. But for the operators of the Port of Wilmington, the three highway infrastructure projects are key to the continued growth and expansion of North Carolina's largest port.

The Port facility currently handles an annual 350,000 trucks, and that number is expected to double to 700,000 annual truck volume by 2020. The Port is currently expanding their container handling facilities along with ongoing dredging of the Cape Fear River to handle larger vessels.

The three highway projects are important to the Port - which is currently accessed only by surface streets. The upgrading of US 74 and construction of I-74 will allow for quick freeway access to points West and Northwest - Charlotte and Greensboro. The I-140 project in addition to the Cape Fear Skyway will provided a timely bypass around Wilmington's surface street. The two projects - if completed - would allow for quicker access to US 17 and points South, the previously mentioned I-74 and US 74 routes, I-40 towards Raleigh and the I-95 East Coast Backbone, and US 17 to coastal points to the North.

However, the possibility of all three projects being completed by 2020 is not as definite as the expansion plans of the Port. Interstate 140 will most likely be finished by 2020, but without the Cape Fear Skyway - a direct connection between the Port and the beltway will not be possible.

- The Cape Fear Skyway which most likely will be built as a toll road is still up in the air as the North Carolina Turnpike Authority gets off the ground and over additional funding issues from the state.

- Interstate 74 and US 74 improvement have been ongoing for decades in North Carolina. Soon, the route from Charlotte to Wilmington will be at a minimum a four lane divided highway, but not a complete freeway. Interstate 74 most likely will have small gaps between I-95 and Whiteville and also between Maxton and Laurinburg. Although these segments are rural, a full freeway standard would allow for quicker travel times of containers to and from the port. US 74 beyond Rockingham towards Charlotte is a four lane highway with no access control. Improvements to bypass Monroe to I-485 (Charlotte Outer Loop) and also around small towns like Wingate and Wadesboro will be necessary for optimum travel for inbound and outbound freight.

Story: Wilmington Port prepares for expansion ---WWAY-TV

Comments

Anonymous said…
If anyone has any information about the proposal for I-74 to actually come into Wilmington, it would be appreciated.
I keep seeing sites that indicate that I-74 will turn south and go to Myrtle Beach. (They already have I-73 going there).

Your editorial is an exceptionally correct piece about the port. The added tax base for those containers and the increased revenue from tourist should almost pay for the upgrading and building.
Also, every effort should be made to have US74 added to the U.S. Interstate Highway System to enable the Federal Government to pay ninety percent (90%) of the cost.
Meaning a $1 Billion upgrade from Charlotte to Wilmington would cost the state only $100 million.

The skyway bridge ($120 million) should be part of the I-74 as well, let the Fed's pay for 90% of that too!!

The interstate 3, through the smokey moutains is far more expensive and no one wants it either.

Email your congress and legislatures to tell them to get on the ball, so it will be complete at the same time the port is finished.
Unknown said…
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