NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The NC Department of Transportation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday to unveil the final section of the I-140 Wilmington Bypass.
N.C. Senator Bill Rabon and state Representative Frank Iler spoke ahead of the ribbon cutting. Rabon said the project would have a big impact on New Hanover and Brunswick counties, and Southeastern North Carolina as a whole.
NCDOT Division Engineer Karen Collette said the entire bypass is 17 years in the making, and will mean big changes for drivers. The newest section connects US 74/76 near Leland up to the Highway 17/421 interchange near New Hanover County.
"I'm hoping commuters' times will be cut drastically, especially if you're on the north side of Wilmington," she said. "It also means a lot to the smaller communities such as Navassa. They have an exit now. We are hoping for economic growth coming out of this project."
The road will not be open to traffic due to wet weather from the previous week delaying construction work, according to NCDOT officials.
Crews are working on sign installation, pavement markings and final concrete work before the new section of the bypass can be opened to motorists.
The road will likely open to drivers next week. However, lane closures will be necessary until early spring so crews can put final touches on the bypass.
The $411 million, 20-mile project began in 2000 and is expected to provide greater connectivity between New Hanover and Brunswick counties.