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Hope Mills May Get Traffic Relief Years Ahead of Schedule

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HOPE MILLS — Traffic relief is in the works for one of the most congested areas in Cumberland County. In Hope Mills, roads were not built to handle all the traffic, so a bypass is in the works. Now work on that bypass may begin a lot sooner than expected.

If you have ever had to drive through downtown Hope Mills during rush hour, you know what a nightmare it can be. Things have gotten so bad, police say they work an average of five traffic accidents per shift.

"The traffic is sometimes backed up for a couple of miles. If you're trying to get home at 5:00 or 5:30, it takes you 45 minutes when it should only take you 10 or 15," says resident Cheryl Baldwin.

To relieve congestion, town leaders proposed a bypass. Although the route received a green light, construction was not scheduled to begin for eight more years.

Town leaders are now making a big push to have that start date moved up four years. It is a move well received by motorists.

"It gets backed up and it might take 20 minutes to move two miles, that's what it seems like. It's lights, three cars may pass through. It's ridiculous," says resident John Schmitt.

If the Hope Mills bypass project is accelerated, the widening of Legion Road will have to be delayed by at least a year. The road was going to be widened to help with school traffic.

County planners say the delay is not a big deal because the bypass has become a higher priority.

"You don't have the heavy traffic volume you do on Legion Road like you do on N.C. 59 or Main Street," says county transportation planner Rick Heicksen.

Although the change in the bypass construction start date was approved by town commissioners, it still has to be approved by the Board of Transportation. The board is expected to vote on the construction date change in November.