Love Grove community still has years to wait for second access

Love Grove community still has years to wait for second access

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It's been nearly two years since a train derailed in front of Wilmington's Love Grove community. Train cars blocked the only entrance to the neighborhood, preventing residents from driving in and out of the community.

Love Grove neighbors have long been seeking a second access point for their neighborhood.

"When I came home from Bible study, the train was sitting across the track last night," said Love Grove resident Lynda McMillan in an interview Tuesday.

McMillan still remembers the train derailment that blocked off emergency access to her community two years ago. She said trains still block the entrance on a regular basis.

"We're very anxious about it because it's still a life-threatening situation," McMillan said about the neighborhood.

Voters approved a bond in November 2015 that would fund transportation projects across the city, including the Love Grove operation. The city anticipates a total of 38 projects to take five to seven years to complete.

Community members are asking the Love Grove project be complete within 18 months.

Richard King, Public Services Director with the City of Wilmington, said it could take two and a half years for the project to be finalized.

"It's a complex project. It has a lot of environmental issues that we're going to deal with," King explained.

King referenced the neighborhood's proximity to wetlands as a construction concern.

Engineer and former Wilmington City Council member, Ron Sparks, said the project could and should be completed in 18 months because of the public safety concerns.

"This is a government project. We shouldn't treat it like other government projects. We need to give this thing a high priority," Sparks said.

McMillan explained the city has taken too long to start work on the second Love Grove entrance.

"It kind of makes us feel like we've been put on the backburner, and that's not acceptable," she elaborated.

King said the project has been prioritized, but explained the process takes a lot of time.

"A lot of times when people don't see anything happening, they don't think anything's happening and there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes," King explained.

He also said the city had previously made plans to create an alternate road for the community should another emergency block the roadway.

King said city staffers will present the Wilmington City Council with a chosen developer for the Love Grove project at the council's meeting July 21.

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