Nearly 10 years later, Wilmington bond projects are still underway

Nearly 10 years later, Wilmington bond projects are still underway
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 3:09 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s been almost ten years since the city of Wilmington voters approved a $44 million transportation bond, and about seven since they approved a $36 million parks bond. But progress is slow, and costs are starting to add up.

City Councilman Luke Waddell says inflation, COVID-19 and the cost of materials all play a role in the costs and delays.

“I think we’re seeing just an amalgamation of all those items built on top of one another. City Council isn’t out there building sidewalks or bridges, but they do oversee these projects,” Waddell said.

Waddell says the way they’re approaching the remaining projects has needed to change.

“We’re having to basically reprioritize what the voters really want, what did they ask for, and that transportation bought in 2014? Let’s hyper-focus on getting those items done,” he said.

Waddell wasn’t on city council when these projects were approved, but Mayor Bill Saffo was. He’s seen just how much prices have changed but is hopeful prices will start to trend downwards.

“We have seen some costs that have come down, but not a lot. And but we do anticipate that some of those costs, overall long term will start to come down a little bit,” Saffo said.

Right now, the park projects are a little more than halfway complete, but transportation projects are taking longer due to the different factors that go into roadway and sidewalk projects.

“They move a little quicker because you’re not doing right away acquisition and some of those more intricate details that you’re seeing on transportation bond project,” he said.

Waddell said these bonds have taught the city council valuable lessons about managing expectations and hopes that, if there are future bond projects, the goals are easier to reach.

“Having the wherewithal on future projects like this to really narrow the focus and maybe not try and take such a big bite of the apple.”

Despite the setbacks, city council members are hopeful that things will continue to move forward and that some of these projects get completed under budget.