ONLINE UPDATE: Airlie Road named Scenic Byway

by Cole Dittmer
Friday, December 6, 2013

Wrightsville Sound’s Airlie Road has officially been named the 57th member of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Scenic Byways Program.

On Aug. 21, 2012, Wilmington City Council approved a resolution requesting NCDOT recognize the corridor and on Friday, Dec. 6, NCDOT Scenic Byway Program coordinator Jeff Lackey said it was approved based on its natural beauty.

“Even thought it is one and a half miles in length the views to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway are incredible,” Lackey said. “You have a tremendous live oak canopy with Spanish moss pretty much throughout the entire corridor, there are transitional spaces where you not only have views of the waterway but also pastoral views, historic architecture, and not to mention the fact that you have Airlie Gardens right there.”

While Airlie Road may be one of 57, Lackey said it unique among the other coastal routes designated.

“When you think of coastal routes you normally don’t get the enclosure but there are parts of that road where there are probably 300-400 year old live oaks there in the canopy,” he said. “On all of [the other coastal scenic byways] there are none that have that quality.”

The designation does carry federal and state grant opportunities with it but Lackey said that funding has been limited recently with the reorganization of aspects of North Carolina’s transportation organizations. However, Lackey said the designation would allow Airlie Road to be included in NCDOT’s marketing campaign.

“One of the big things is it will be part of our Scenic Byways book, which is a guide we pretty much send all over the world,” he said. “Not only that, it will also be part of the marketing we do for our byway program statewide as well.”

Appearance wise, not much will change other than the Scenic Byways signage, Lackey said. In the case of future developments along the corridor the NCDOT will focus on protecting the current nature of the roadway.

“Any new construction that goes through there is subject to a policy where we try to look at what we call context sensitive design,” he said. “Normally what happens is I will work with our engineers to minimize impacts to the corridor.”

Motorists can expect to see the Scenic Byway signage pop up on Airlie Road sometime around the beginning of 2014.


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