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Cape Fear Skyway at a crossroads

The proposed Cape Fear Skyway is at a crossroads as elected leaders in both Brunswick and New Hanover Counties debate on which is their preferred choice for the highway and bridge.

At a recent meeting between the North Carolina Turnpike Authority and the Wilmington Area Transportation Advisory Committee, various leaders voiced their opinions on what route the proposed toll road should follow.

Brunswick County Commissioner Bill Sue prefers a more northern route that avoids the Snee Farm and Stoney Creek communities. He views the northern route as the first proposal that avoids "...really high-priced land that represents some potentially good tax base."

However, the northern route doesn't sit well with the mayor of Leland, Walter Futch. The proposed northern route would cut through the heart of his town.

“It separates our town,” he said.

Futch would like to state to spend some of that money on widening US 74/76 through town and to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

Options for where the Skyway can go in Brunswick County are dwindling as new developments in the county are built.

The debate on the Brunswick County alignment of the Skyway has impact on where the bridge lands in New Hanover County. The Skyway is supposed to tie into Carolina Beach Road near Independence Boulevard. But until a path is determined in Brunswick County, a final alignment in New Hanover can't be determined.

Story Links:
Cape Fear Skyway's future hinges on Wednesday's meeting ---Wilmington Star-News
Proposed Skyway Bridge still has twisted path to follow ---Wilmington Star-News

Commentary:

The Star-News followed up with an editorial urging Brunswick County officials to come together to support any alignment for the bridge. They point out to the number of reasons why the bridge needs built. First and foremost, the aging and overworked Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

The Cape Fear Memorial is over 40 years old and serves well over capacity. It's been closed numerous times for safety concerns, and is a choke point in Wilmington's highway system. This is why US 17 and US 74 have already been routed away from downtown. US 74 now runs along MLK Blvd. to the north as a downtown bypass and direct access to the airport. US 17 runs further north along the incomplete I-140 Wilmington Bypass.

In addition, truck traffic to and from the Port of Wilmington uses this bridge adding to the congestion downtown and around the bridge.

The Skyway - even with tolls - would improve traffic flow around and between Brunswick County and Wilmington (New Hanover County). The Cape Fear Memorial is the last vehicle bridge from Wilmington to the Atlantic - save for the Fort Fisher to Southport Ferry. the Skyway obviously would improve travel times between the two areas but also allow for greater access to the Port of Wilmington - something the state and all of Southeastern NC has benefited from.

The Skyway would also allow traffic going to Carolina or Kure Beach a bypass around Wilmington - specifically the commercialized College Road corridor. This obviously would be a benefit in hurricane evacuation as well.

The Brunswick County officials need to work together and come up with an agreed upon corridor that will allow construction of the Skyway to begin sooner, not later.

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