Improving Business in the Wilmington Region

Momentum Builds for Infrastructure Initiative Along Highway 421

The March 15th passage by North Carolina voters of a $2 billion bond package could help facilitate the construction of water and wastewater service along U.S. Highway 421, a key industrial corridor with lucrative job-creation potential.

While New Hanover County is not directly eligible for “Connect NC” funds, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) has made application with the state for grants and low-interest loans that can help with infrastructure for the corridor. Should the funds be approved, the CFPUA board will make the determination on how to use the grants and loans going forward.

The timing of Connect NC passage dovetails neatly with the county’s planning efforts. In late April, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved $2.1 million for the design work, permitting fees and right-of-way acquisition necessary to bring water and sewer along US 421 from the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Pender County line. “The FY16-17 Recommended Budget continues this investment by recommending approval of a $14.6 million capital project for the construction of the proposed water line, pump station, and sewer force main and collection systems,” says Chris Coudriet, New Hanover County Manager.

Based on the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER), the total cost of the project is estimated to be $16.7 million.  “The capital project was approved as part of the FY 16-17 adopted budget. Water and sewer should be available along US 421 beginning July of 2019,” Coudriet says.

Water and wastewater service could draw a new wave of industrial relocations and expansions to Greater Wilmington. “Water and sewer are essential building blocks for today’s industry,” says Scott Satterfield, WBD’s chief executive officer. The move is pivotal to moving the ball forward for our region’s economy, he says. “This is an investment that will dictate what our future economy looks like,” Satterfield says. “It will help determine what kind of job market Wilmington has in place for coming generations.”