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Growing pains in Leland, Belville should pay off

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The relatively young Brunswick County town of Leland is experiencing a growth spurt, as reflected in the many building projects under way.

Town staff and police are in the process of moving into a wing of the long-awaited new town hall.

An 18,000-square-foot building that sits off U.S. 17, at 1212 Magnolia Village Way, is being transformed into a highly anticipated cultural arts center. Plans are being finalized for a much-needed new senior center. And work has begun to create the first public water access at Sturgeon Creek Park.

In short, the municipality that seemed — to some — only to exist in the shadow of Wilmington, the big New Hanover County city to the east, is coming into its own.

The same goes for Leland’s closest neighbor, Belville. Efforts to establish the Brunswick Riverwalk at Belville, a 12,000-square-foot restaurant and retail site that will include a 120-foot fishing pier in the Brunswick River, eight shops, a boardwalk, walking trails and an observation tower, are flowing right along to serve the town’s diverse population.

This much development requires appropriate infrastructure, which is why so much road construction in the area has come to pass.

Replacement of the Brunswick River bridges and the northbound bridge over Alligator Creek and the widening of the southbound bridge should be done by November 2016, barring unforeseen delays. The construction is widening the U.S. 17/74/76 and N.C. 133 (Village Road) interchange from two lanes to three lanes to the U.S. 421/N.C. 133 interchange. The Brunswick River bridge upgrades will increase clearance over the water from 2 feet to 8 feet.

Bridge replacement on N.C. 87 near Leland that started earlier this month is expected to take four months to finish, weather permitting, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The project to replace the 41-year-old Hood Creek Bridge, which is considered structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, led to the closure of N.C. 87 two miles north of Colon Mintz Road.

Leland commissioners are considering what to do with a section of Old Fayetteville Road that was cut off when the new intersection was built at Village Road. When the intersection was rearranged to widen and add a curve to Old Fayetteville Road, a 420-foot portion of the old street was left.

Meanwhile, construction to relocate Blackwell Road 600 feet south of the current intersection with N.C. 133 in Belville will kick off this summer. Construction on the diverging diamond interchange at River and Village roads under the U.S. 17/74/76 overpass should also begin later this year, with anticipated opening in mid-summer 2015.

Leland and Belville may have found themselves at odds in the past, but a spirit of cooperation between the two is fueling improvements at the north