Expected Traffic Impacts For The 2023 Battleship Half Marathon/10K/5K

The 25th annual Battleship Half Marathon, 10K & 5K will take place on Sunday, Nov. 12, from 7am to 11am and bring approximately 2,200 participants to the downtown Wilmington area.

The half marathon course begins on Water Street in front of the Alton Lennon Federal Building and heads north to the Isabel Holmes Bridge, south on US 421 toward and across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, then around Greenfield Lake, and ends back at Water Street.

The 10K race follows the same route as the half marathon but turns around on Greenfield Street and heads to the finish line on Water Street.

The 5K race stays in downtown Wilmington.

A course map for the half marathon can be found here.

The following street/lane closures will be needed.

Saturday, November 11 at Noon:

  • Water St between Market St and Princess St

Sunday, November 12 at 3:00 am:

  • Princess St. between N Front St. & N Water St.
  • Orange St. between Water & Front
  • Water St between Red Cross & Orange
  • Front St between Brunswick and Red Cross
  • Front St between Ann and Orange
  • Hanover St. between Nutt St. & N Front St.
  • Grace St. between N Water St. & 2nd St.
  • Red Cross St. between N Water St. & N 2nd St.
  • Northbound S Front St. between Burnett Blvd/Carolina Beach Rd. and Orange St.
  • Southbound N 2nd St. between Grace St. & Red Cross St.
  • Southbound exit ramp to S Front St. from Cape Fear Memorial Bridge / Hwy. 74/76
  • S Front St. on ramp to Cape Fear Memorial Bridge / westbound Hwy 74/76
  • Greenfield St. between S Front St. & S 2nd St.

Lane closure – Inside lane of W. Lakeshore Dr., from S 5th Ave. to Woodland Ave. – no vehicular traffic clockwise around Greenfield Lake.

Althea Gibson, Wilmington Tennis Legend, To Appear On US Quarter

On Oct. 17, the United States Mint announced that Althea Gibson, a tennis legend from Wilmington, would be among the honorees for its 2025 American Women Quarters Program — the fourth and final year of the program.

Gibson was a trailblazing, multi-sport athlete and was the first Black athlete to break through the color barrier at the highest levels in tennis, capturing 11 Grand Slam titles by the end of the 1950s. She won multiple championships at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the French Open, becoming one of the most dominant tennis players in history. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971 and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Not content with just one sport, Gibson also was the first Black player to compete in the Women’s Professional Golf Tour.

The designs for the quarters featuring the 2025 honorees will be unveiled next year.

The other honorees include Ida B. Wells, Juliette Gordon Low, Dr. Vera Rubin, and Stacey Park Milbern.

Council Recap: MLK Community Center Expansion, WMPO Long-Range Transportation Plan Update

Wilmington City Council held its second regular meeting for the month of October.

First up, council received two presentations: first, the Wilmington Urban Area MPO annual update (watch here) and an update on the Cape Fear Navigating Change 2050 long-range metropolitan transportation plan (watch here), which will guide all manner of transportation projects in our region over the next 25 years.

“This plan is the blueprint for our region. It is the gold standard of transportation planning,” said Vanessa Lacer, senior transportation planner for the WMPO. “Please take the survey, which you can find at WMPO.org. This is our tool, our strongest tool to understand what the community wants and needs. So, if you haven’t taken it, please do.”

Next, council awarded a construction contract for the MLK Community Center upgrade.

This $4.5 million upgrade, which is a voter-approved Parks Bond project, includes the addition of a commercial kitchen, lobby, restrooms, office space and high school regulation-sized gymnasium.

Because of rising construction costs, council also approved an additional $1.15 million dollars of funding.

Next, council authorized the Wilmington Housing Authority to issue up to $16 million in bonds towards the development of 104 affordable rental housing units known as Tidewater Townhomes.

While the city is not financing this project, its approval is required because the project is located within city limits.

Finally,  council authorized agreements with multiple organizations to narrow the digital divide in our community through job skills training and workforce development.

City Council will meet again on November 8 at 6:30 p.m. For more on this meeting, visit WilmingtonNC.gov.

Traffic Impacts For Saturday’s Ironman Triathlon

Approximately 3,200 athletes are expected to compete in Saturday’s Ironman 70.3 North Carolina Triathlon. The course will begin in Wrightsville Beach and end in downtown Wilmington.

The triathlon includes a 1.2-mile swim course in Banks Channel on Wrightsville Beach, a 56-mile bike ride that starts at Wrightsville Beach, then moves onto MLK Parkway and US 421 in Pender County, and then back into the city. And the final part of the triathlon is a 13.1-mile run course that begins in northern downtown, continues south to Greenfield Lake, and ends at Riverfront Park.

This event will obviously affect traffic around the city, so here are the anticipated road impacts associated with the triathlon.

Bike Course

Traffic control devcies will be in place at 6 a.m. These closures are temporary, and detours have been planned. The route is an open course; roads are open to traffic, but there will be lane closures and traffic pattern changes. All traffic lights along the route will be operating as normal and law enforcement will be present.

Cyclists leaving Wrightsville Beach will merge into the far-left lane. Prior to the Eastwood Rd/Military Cutoff Rd intersection, the left lane will be coned off for cyclists heading straight up Eastwood and MLK to cross the Isabel Holmes Bridge.

The route will continue over the Isabel Holmes Bridge onto 421 (northbound). In Pender County, cyclists turn left at Union Chapel Rd and travel through secondary roads before returning down Blueberry Rd to 421 S. Cyclists return into Wilmington over the Isabel Holmes Bridge before ending downtown.

NOTE: The exit to downtown on the Isabel Holmes Bridge will be closed to traffic coming into the city. The suggested detour is to take MLK Parkway to the McRae Street exit.

Causeway Dr from Waynick Blvd at Wrightsville Beach to the Wrightsville Beach DrawbridgeClosed; Use Lumina Ave to Salisbury5:15AM to 10AM
All roads intersecting Eastwood (eastbound) and MLK (eastbound), except Market St and College RdClosed7AM to 10:30AM
Eastwood/Military Cut-Off IntersectionExpect Delays7AM to 10:30AM
College Rd (southbound) from MLK to Racine DrExpect Delays7AM to 10:30AM
Market St (eastbound) from College Rd to MLKExpect Delays7AM to 10:30AM
MLK (eastbound) from McRae St to College RdExpect Delays – One Lane Open to Traffic7AM to 10:30AM
Hwy 76 to 421 (northbound) – Traffic detoured to 2nd exit ramp eastbound off Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, then to the on ramp and over the bridge to 421Closed7AM to 2PM
Hwy 421 (north and southbound) I-140-Isabel HolmesExpect Delays7AM to 2PM

Run Course

Athletes will begin the running course portion of the triathlon at North Front Street near Red Cross Street and run south along Front Street to Greenfield Lake. The course takes the athletes around the lake once, then back around the lake in the opposite direction, and north toward downtown Wilmington, ending at Riverfront Park.

The inner lane of Lake Shore Drive (closest to the lake) is closed from 5th Ave to Amphitheater Dr. Traffic will travel counter-clockwise around the lake and out of intersecting neighborhoods.

All vehicles entering Lake Shore Dr from any of the intersecting roads must take a right hand turn onto Lake Shore Dr – no left-hand turns will be allowed.

NOTE: The Front Street North exit on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge will be closed to traffic coming into the city for the duration of the triathlon.

N 2nd St from N Front St to Hanover StClosed3AM to 5PM
Brunswick St from 3rd St to N Front StClosed3AM to 5PM
Hanover St from N Front St to Nutt StClosed6AM to 5PM
Front St (southbound) from N 3rd St to Red Cross StClosed6AM to 5PM
Front St (southbound) from Red Cross to GreenfieldClosed8:45AM to 5PM
S Front St (northbound) from S 3rd St/Burnett St to Dawson StClosed8:45AM to 5PM
Red Cross St from N Front St to N Water StClosed8:45AM to 5PM
Greenfield St from S Front St to S Fifth AveClosed8:45AM to 5PM
S 3rd St (southbound) at Wooster StClosed8:45AM to 5PM
Westbound access to Water St will be open at cross streets along Front St unless otherwise mentioned aboveExpect Delays, Use Alternate Routes8:45AM to 5PM

For more information, visit the IRONMAN 70.3 website.

Those with questions about the race, route, or traffic impacts are asked to call (910) 316-1322 or email northcarolina70.3@ironman.com.

The Greenfield Lake Spillway Had Significant Cracking, Here’s How It Was Fixed

Major repairs to the Greenfield Lake spillway were completed earlier this year. The spillway serves as an outfall to the lake, where water from Greenfield Lake eventually flows into the Cape Fear River.

Over the years significant cracking developed in the spillway’s concrete structure due to settling.

The $1.1 million repair project included retrofitting the spillway’s foundation with 12, massive helical piers to stabilize it and prevent future cracking. Crews also added new concrete topping slabs, replaced the timber framing on the existing guardrails on the walkway, and re-tensioned the existing cables in the guardrails.

These improvements ensure that the spillway continues to serve as a reliable outfall to the lake for years to come.

Council Recap: Pushing Forward On Multi-Use Paths, Road Improvements, and Affordable Housing

Wilmington City Council holding its first regular meeting for the month of October and first up: Council agreed to accept funding from the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the upcoming construction of multi-use paths along Hooker Road and Hinton Avenue, as well as bike lanes and sidewalks along Greenville Avenue.

This project will also include improvements to the intersection of Wrightsville and Greenville avenues.

Next, council voted on a one-year extension of the annual paving contract, which would be the third and final year of this contract.

This contract provides the means to improve city-maintained streets through repaving, resurfacing, and preservation techniques.

“The most important resource that we have to get this work done is this contract,” said Dave Mayes, the public services director for the City of Wilmington. “We’ve been able to maximize our efficiency, getting asphalt out onto the ground through this annual-needs style of contract.”

And finally, council approved a resolution to provide $750,000 in gap financing to Starway Village. Located along Carolina Beach Road, the Starway Village project will include 278 units of affordable housing for households with incomes ranging from 30 to 60 percent of the area median income.

“Affordable housing is a critical issue in our community. Fifty-two percent of renters in our community are housing costs burdened,” said Suzanne Rogers, community development and housing planner for the city.

City Council will meet again on October 17th at 6:30 p.m. For more on this meeting, visit wilmingtonnc.gov.

Guest Post: Be A Looker!

This is a guest post from the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Many people bike and walk in the Wilmington area, whether for transportation, recreation, or other purposes. Our coastal community and its multitude of trails and greenways in Wilmington, including the Cross-City Trail, make it easy and fun to get around by walking or rolling.

With more development and more people moving to North Carolina, it’s important to remember there are more people sharing the road than ever. Each year in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties, there are 90 vehicle-pedestrian crashes on average and 59 vehicle-bicycle crashes. To reduce crashes, we all need to be watching out for each other.

Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. That’s why the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) developed the Be A Looker campaign.

Be A Looker is an educational outreach campaign which offers tips for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians on how to keep those who bike and walk safe on our roads. For this campaign, the WMPO also received 100 children’s bicycle helmets from an NCDOT grant, and has been distributing them this summer to children in need of helmets at events across the lower Cape Fear region.

Let’s do our part to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe!

Drivers: this means, put down the phone – don’t drive distracted. Be sure to give 4 feet of passing distance to bicyclists, even if that means changing lanes or crossing a double yellow line when it’s safe to do so. Obey the speed limits, and look right before you turn right for anyone coming up the sidewalk, crosswalk, or trail.

Bicyclists, you can stay safe by wearing a helmet and using lights on your bike to stay visible! Don’t bike with headphones, be aware of your surroundings. And since, according to North Carolina state law, bicycles are considered vehicles – follow the rules of the road. This means riding on the right side of the road with traffic (it’s easier for vehicles to pass someone traveling in the same direction), stopping at stop signs and red lights, and yielding to pedestrians.

A woman is making sure a helmet is properly secured on a young bicyclist.

Pedestrians, whether you walk or roll, stay safe by crossing in expected locations, such as crosswalks and at intersections. Make eye contact with drivers to be sure you see each other. Make yourself visible – this means wearing bright clothing and having a light at night, and walking or crossing in places where the view is not obstructed by parked cars or buildings.

Read more information and take the pledge to Be A Looker at gocoastnc.org/bealooker. Thanks for doing your part to improve road safety for everyone!

Council Recap: WPD Equipment Upgrades, Multi-Use Path Projects Move Forward, And More

Wilmington City Council holding its second regular meeting for the month of August. First up, former Wilmington mayor Spence Broadhurst was presented with the Order of the Longleaf Pine. This is the highest honor a civilian can receive in North Carolina.

“Thank you for your service as bank president, mayor of Wilmington, and community leader, North Carolina is a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Governor Roy Cooper stated in a video recorded message.

Broadhurst added, “I know what’s behind that recognition and I do not take it lightly. So, again, I just don’t know what to say other than to all of you, thank you so much.”

Next, council approved a five-year contract for equipment for the police department. Among the items included, body and in-car cameras, tasers, live stream monitoring system, and digital evidence storage.

Next, council authorized the filing of condemnation actions for right-of-way and easements on the Hooker Road – Hinton Avenue – and Wrightsville-Greenville multi-use path project.

This project is necessary for the completion of the Cross-City Trail, connecting it to these corridors, and providing further connectivity across the city.

Finally, council authorized an agreement for professional architectural services with LS3P Associates.

The firm will provide services for the pending office consolidation at the recently acquired building at 929 North Front Street.

City council will meet again on September 5th at 6:30 pm. For more on this meeting, visit wilmingtonnc.gov.

The Possibilities of Passenger Rail for Wilmington

This is an Op-Ed by Mayor Bill Saffo

Imagine hopping aboard a train in downtown Wilmington and traveling to destinations west, north, and south of our city. Or, better still, imagine the ability to show off our city – its waterfront restaurants and shops, its historic buildings and sites, its recreational opportunities and energy – to travelers from those same destinations who could arrive by a quick and convenient train ride.

No worries about stop-and-go traffic. The ability to read a book, catch up on email or enjoy conversation with friends. A tranquil ride watching the landscape pass by.

There is growing momentum for that dream to become a reality, for Wilmington and other cities across North Carolina, as state, local MPO, and federal officials explore new funding opportunities for intercity passenger rail. To better understand those opportunities, the City of Wilmington and Rail Response, a project of the NC Metro Mayors Coalition, will be hosting a meeting on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 1:00p.m. We hope that this meeting, to be held at 929 N. Front Street, will provide those interested with a better understanding of rail systems in North Carolina, specifically intercity passenger rail and its benefits to residents.

“Wilmington can and should be a part of a passenger rail system in North Carolina.”

Mayor Bill Saffo

It also will offer an opportunity to understand the funding streams for rail systems and the resources municipalities need to compete for intercity rail funding. The event will include presentations by state transportation experts and a look at the future of rail here in Wilmington.

I’m proud to be a member of the Rail Response workgroup, and we look forward to being joined by other members, including co-chairs Susan Kluttz, former Salisbury Mayor and former Secretary of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, and Nick Tennyson, former mayor of Durham and former Secretary of the NC Department of Transportation.

This meeting comes at an opportune time for our city.

Back in May, our City Council approved a resolution in support of the NC Department of Transportation’s application to have the proposed Wilmington-to-Raleigh route be included in a federal  Corridor Identification and Development Program. If approved, it would designate $500,000 in federal funding for planning for the route.

In total, the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill includes $66 billion for passenger and freight rail infrastructure investment, with $44 billion to be distributed through the Federal Railroad Administration’s discretionary grant program.

As part of its Amtrak Connects US initiative, Amtrak has unveiled early-stage plans that would include Wilmington among more than 30 new routes by 2035.

In other words, a Wilmington-to-Raleigh passenger route that would connect to passenger rail across the state and the Eastern Seaboard, is a real possibility.

Meanwhile, a local effort called Eastern Carolina Rail, is seeking to enlist private and public entities in generating awareness and support for the passenger rail corridor and its benefits to our region.

This is an exciting moment for the possibilities of passenger rail. More and more people are using rail for travel, and system modernization is making it increasingly attractive to travelers.

Wilmington can and should be a part of a passenger rail system in North Carolina. There is plenty of work to be done, and I look forward to joining with partners across the state in this worthy effort.

City partners with New Hanover County for hurricane preparedness exercise

As the heart of the Atlantic Hurricane Season nears, the City of Wilmington and its partners with the New Hanover County government held a hurricane exercise on Tuesday, Aug. 8 to prepare for any future storms that may affect our community.

“The exercise allows us to assess our capabilities and make critical adjustments to better prepare the city’s response to hurricanes,” said Craig Harris, Emergency Management & Resiliency Coordinator for the City of Wilmington. 

The exercise was held concurrently at the New Hanover County Emergency Operations Center inside the county’s new government complex and at the city’s Public Services Department Emergency Operations Center, and involved over 90 city and county employees. When an emergency occurs, the city works in partnership with the county to have a jointly coordinated response.

The training exercise held at the city’s Emergency Operations Center.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, and generally peaks around the beginning of September. So, the time to prepare is right now.

Make sure to do these three things to prepare for the next storm:

  • Put together an emergency kit that includes extra batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, bottled water, and prescription medications. Your kit should include enough supplies to last for at least three days.
  • Secure important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, and tax records.
  • Strengthen your home by covering windows, reinforcing doors, and bringing all outdoor furniture inside before a storm hits.

It’s incredibly important to prepare now so you’re ready when the next storm happens.

For more tips, head on over to ready.gov/hurricanes.