Public meeting for Hampstead Bypass disappoints some

Public meeting for Hampstead Bypass disappoints some

HAMPSTEAD, NC (WECT) - Pender County held a public drop-in session to present more information on the Hampstead Bypass project Tuesday, but some community members were disappointed with the lack of updates.

The meeting included current project timelines, designs, and funding for the Hampstead Bypass, but residents said the only new information was the proposed timeline.

The bypass will be within 1,000 feet of Penny Stiph's home off Highway 210. While she is excited that the bypass will relieve traffic, she was not happy with Tuesday night's meeting.

"I got here and I actually waited in line for about a half-hour to get a handout," she said. "It just has the dates on it for when everything is estimated, which always can change. And then I sat down for another few minutes and realized there's not really a public forum here. We're just looking at videos and looking at maps that we've already seen so I really wanted more information."

Many shared Stiph's feelings, saying they were expecting a public hearing. Instead, the information session was conducted like many NC Department of Transportation meetings, in a drop-in manner where attendees could view plans and ask questions if they had them.

The timeline estimated that construction on the bypass will begin in Winter 2020. The construction on the median project is not expected to begin until 2023.

David Leonard, an engineer with the DOT, says the project has already been accelerated by five years, and he understands the urge to get it started.

"I think most of the people here are very aware of the traffic concerns that we have," said Leonard. "Everybody wants us to go faster and we're trying to go as fast as we can. ... We're hoping to get it out there as soon as we can."

Leonard also said the DOT is getting close to receiving the right-of-ways for the projects and expects that to happen this year.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.