In March 2022, the New Hanover
County Board of Commissioners voted
4-1 to begin the process of adding a
referendum to the Nov. 8 general elec-tion
ballot for voters to weigh in for or
against a quarter-cent transportation
sales tax for all county residents. As
proposed, 45 percent of the tax would
fund Wave Transit, 40 percent would
go to bike and pedestrian paths, and
15 percent for rail realignment going
south to the port.
Will any of this proposed funding go
towards the multimodal Rail Trail on
the ACL railroad bed? “It could be. That
is a potential project. That’s one of the
identified projects,” says New Hanover
County Director of Parks and Gardens
The March vote was step one in a
long process. County commissioners
would next advertise to hold a public
hearing, possibly this summer, for input
from the public.
After the public hearing, the commis-sioners
would have a choice of voting to
do nothing, or go ahead with the sales
tax referendum appearing as a ballot
question in November. (Two commis-sioners
are also up for re-election on
the November ballot.)
HILE the design is being completed and will need to be approved, other
enhancements have taken place in recent years.
In 2016, the NCDOT completed the $4.4 million replacement of
3rd Street’s 100-year-old bridge between Hanover and Campbell streets. In 2019, the
new bridge was dedicated in memory of Meadowlark Lemon, the Wilmington native
famous for his basketball skills and antics for 20 years with the Harlem Globetrotters.
He died in 2015.
Noted as the first art installment of the Rail Trail, the Meadowlark Lemon Memo-rial
Bridge was first lit on April 12, 2021. The bridge is lit nightly from dusk to 2 a.m.,
and from 5 a.m. to sunrise. The Rail Trail will go through the underpass and eventu-ally
connect to the Riverwalk.
Additional details, images, maps and plans are available by searching Wilmington
Rail Trail Master Plan, at WMPO.org, and visiting Connect.NCDOT.gov.
BY PAT BRADFORD
Rhonda Bellamy, executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover
County, and Allison Fluitt, vice president and senior transportation planner with Kimley-
Horn, place a sign in the rail bed announcing the Wilmington Rail Trail. Kimley-Horn is
the Raleigh-based consulting firm that did the master planning for the project.
COURTESY OF WILMINGTON URBAN AREA METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION