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U.S. 421 Utilities Expected To Help Lure Jobs

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Dec 10, 2019
CFPUA officials and area leaders gathered for a ribbon-cutting event at a pump station Tuesday for the U.S. 421 Water and Wastewater Utilities Expansion Project. (Photo courtesy of CFPUA)
The new water and sewer lines established along U.S. 421 help solidify a major business corridor, local economic development officials said.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority on Tuesday marked the near-completion of the 35,000 feet of water lines and more than 36,000 feet of sewer lines that extend along the U.S. 421 corridor from the Isabel Holmes Bridge in New Hanover County to the Pender County line.

The  U.S. 421 Water and Wastewater Utilities Expansion Project extends the services to nearly 1,000 developable acres along the industrial corridor, CFPUA officials said in a news release.

“There are nearly 100 businesses, big and small, between the Isabel Holmes Bridge and the Pender Commerce Park. As we continue to recruit companies to the region with our economic development partners, we expect the number of businesses on this corridor to rise,” Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, said in an email.

Wilmington Business Development (WBD) oversees business recruitment and industrial retention for the city of Wilmington and New Hanover and Pender counties. 

While the county-owned Pender Commerce Park was not in the project area and has its own utilities, it is just past the county line and also has available acreage for industrial development sitting just off U.S. 421.

Those "essential utilities" and positioning of the U.S. 421 industrial corridor encourage future economic opportunities in the area for both in New Hanover and Pender counties, Satterfield said.

“One of the many success elements of the Pender Commerce Park is direct access to 421, a four-lane divided highway, with proximity to I-140 and Wilmington. The same accessibility is available for sites up and down this corridor," he said. "Transportation and essential infrastructure are key components looked at by decisionmakers in the site selection process. Utilities in play just make it more attractive.”

CFPUA officials said in November that at least a dozen businesses planned to connect to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s new infrastructure at the time. Those businesses include the Wilmington plants of Southern States Chemical and Fortron Industries, which plans to use potable water from CFPUA.

"We’re turning in the certification for sewer for the state today, so as of today sewer will be ready to operate when someone in the corridor connects. The water line underwent its final pressure test this morning and chlorination has started. That is roughly a four-day process, so we anticipate water being fully operational next Monday or Tuesday," said Cammie Bellamy, CFPUA assistant public information officer, in an email.

The project cost $15.5 million for construction, planning, design and engineering, with $12.8 of that total for construction alone, Bellamy said.

The total included a $1.6 million contribution from New Hanover County 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, according to the release.

Construction (water lines pictured right) involved construction of CFPUA Pump Station 159, boring under the Cape Fear River from Wilmington to Eagles Island, as well as the installation of the water and sewer lines, according to the CFPUA.

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, New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman said in the news release.

“Today is about more than pipes and pump stations,” Olson-Boseman said in the release. “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.”

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