The N.C. State Ports Authority will receive almost $11 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to move the Port of Wilmington’s North Gate farther away from surrounding neighborhoods, according to an announcement Thursday morning.
The money from USDOT is a part of its Port Infrastructure Development Program. The money will fund 38% of the port's North Gate Relocation and Access Optimization project, the release stated. The total cost of the project will be nearly $28.5 million, and N.C. Ports plans to fund the remaining cost.
Environmental and design work is underway now, funded by a grant from the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, N.C. Ports spokesperson Elly Cosgrove said.
Construction is planned to take "approximately two years following signature of the USDOT agreement," Cosgrove said.
“This project aligns with our long-term vision to provide safe and efficient access to the Port of Wilmington, ultimately enabling port growth while reducing bottlenecks and truck emissions,” N.C. Ports executive director Brian Clark said in the release.
Relocating the North Gate to South Front Street from its current location on Burnett Boulevard would help divert traffic away from nearby neighborhoods, reduce truck delays and traffic near the railroad crossing and bring the port entrance closer to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, N.C. Ports officials said.
South Front Street also is slated to undergo construction in 2027, according to N.C. Ports officials, in a project funded by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The road will be widened from two lanes to four lanes, and the rail will be relocated to eliminate rail crossing traffic, the release stated.
Trucks heading to and from the port would have unrestricted travel to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge via South Front Street, according to ports officials.
“Together, these projects will close the gap of the first and last mile to and from the Port of Wilmington,” the N.C. Ports release stated.
In addition to the North Gate relocation, the $11 million federal grant also will cover building a new badging office, including electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to the release. A trucking queue, cargo control area and vehicle and truck turnaround area are included in the plans, officials said.