NHC lays out plans for trails and transit improvements in new website

The Park Avenue Trail
The Park Avenue Trail(City of Wilmington)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 8:15 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County has created a new website to explain the projects and service improvements planned if the quarter-cent transportation sales tax increase is passed on the November ballot. The increase would be 25 cents per $100 and would not apply to groceries, fuel, prescriptions and other tax-exempt sales.

The county notes that these types of sales taxes are used across the state to help build significant improvements to non-highway projects. While the NCDOT provides a small amount for other projects, their main spending focus lies elsewhere. Over 90% of NCDOT spending is for highway construction and maintenance.

Bike and pedestrian improvements

About 39%, or about $56 million over 10 years, would be dedicated to various pedestrian improvements. In the first five years, the county plans on building over 10 miles of new multi-use trails, five new sidewalks and nine improved crosswalks/intersections.

A few of the multi-use paths planned for the first five years include a 2.2-mile trail from 3rd Street to the Love Grove Bridge, a 2.5-mile N College Road trail from Gordon Road to Northcase Parkway and a 2.5-mile S College Road Trail from 17th Street to Monkey Junction. In Wilmington, sidewalks could be added along Medical Center Drive, Cardinal Drive, Oriole Drive, Wilshire Blvd and College Acres Drive.

Wave Transit improvements

Wave Transit buses
Wave Transit buses(WECT)

A significant portion of funding, 45% or about $65 million over 10 years, will would go towards various improvements to Wave. Soon after passing the tax, the funding could help hire additional staff to extend hours on various routes. Per the TrailsTransitNHC website:

  • Extend weekday hours on high productivity routes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Extend Saturday hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Expand Sunday hours to start at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. and to end at 8 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.

Wave will have three routes will have 30-minute frequencies beginning in July, but by 2024 the county plans to have three more routes with 30 to 45-minute frequencies. By 2027, two more routes would have frequencies of 30 to 45 minutes.

Wave would also increase discounts for young people: free transit passes for anyone under 17 years old for after-school activities, classes or work.

Rail Realignment

Initially, 16% of the sales tax would be used to fund parts of the Rail Realignment Project. In the first five years, the focus is on moving the railroad tracks on South Front Street to the west side of the road. Besides the removing two road crossings, the realignment would allow the county to expand the road from two to four lanes and add a multi-use path.

You can find an interactive map of the priority projects on the new TrailsTransitNHC website. The website was announced in a county press release on June 23.

A map from TrialsTransitNHC with pink lines for increased bus route frequency and blue lines...
A map from TrialsTransitNHC with pink lines for increased bus route frequency and blue lines for new trails.(TrailsTransitNHC)

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