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WMPO Board To Consider Resolution On Toll Bridge Proposal

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 27, 2021
Cape Fear Memorial Bridge (File photo)
The Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Organization's board is slated to consider backing or refusing its support for toll bridge proposal for replacing the aging Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

On the agenda for the board's regular meeting Wednesday afternoon is a resolution to either support or not support the N.C. Department of Transportation and WMPO moving ahead with reviewing the idea of a replacement toll bridge built through a public-private partnership.

Earlier this month, NCDOT officials approached the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Organization (WMPO) with an unsolicited proposal from a private company willing to fund, build and manage a toll bridge.

The proposal -- to build a fixed, 135-foot bridge with six lanes and a multi-use path -- was brought to NCDOT late last year. The bridge includes a toll component as part of the idea presented by the developer, who is unnamed because of state law on this form of private company project pitch, NCDOT officials have said.

Under its proposal, the company would operate the toll bridge for 50 years.

The NCDOT said it would not move forward with the idea without the WMPO's support to further study and evaluate the proposal, according to the resolution board members are expected to consider Wednesday.

The proposed bridge design is based on option two of NCDOT's Cape Fear Memorial Bridge replacement feasibility study, which is estimated to cost nearly $246 million.

NCDOT officials have said it is unlikely a replacement for the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge would be funded by traditional means in the next 10 years.

The proposal has drawn concerns from area leaders during the discussions about the project.

Some commissioners raised questions about the project during a presentation to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners this month. Some Brunswick County commissioners also have released public statements about the toll bridge proposal.

WMPO Executive Director Mike Kozlosky and NCDOT Division 3 Engineer Chad Kimes on Tuesday spoke about the proposal during the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce's public policy committee meeting.

The WMPO board is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Wilmington Convention Center, 10 Convention Center Drive, in downtown Wilmington. The meeting is being streamed on Zoom.

Those who want to listen in can also dial in by calling (646) 876-9923, and when prompted, enter meeting identification number 871 8625 1669.
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