SOUTHEASTERN N.C. -- The long-awaited extension of Military Cutoff Road into a bypass to be built around Hampstead could see construction start as soon as 2020.

N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Rick said the Hampstead bypass project was moved up by five years in the state's transportation plan after it was combined with another project to build a median in Hampstead. The $152.2 million project is scheduled to begin right-of-way acquisition in May 2018 and start construction in 2020.

The Hampstead Bypass will begin in New Hanover County at a proposed interchange with the U.S. 17 Wilmington Bypass. It extends from the U.S. 17 Wilmington Bypass northwest past Sidbury Road into Pender County, according to the DOT.

The road will then turn to the northeast and continues to a proposed interchange with N.C. 210. From this interchange, the proposed bypass extends northeast and crosses Hoover Road north of South Topsail Elementary School. The project continues northeast behind the Topsail Schools complex and then turns east to tie into existing U.S. 17 near Leeward Lane. The proposed road continues north on existing U.S. 17 to Sloop Point Loop Road.

Meanwhile, right-of-way acquisition began last year for the Military Cutoff Road extension, which begins at a proposed interchange at Military Cutoff Road and Market Street. The road then extends to the north and northwest, ending near Plantation Road and Crooked Pine Road at a proposed interchange with the U.S. 17 Wilmington Bypass -- about midway between I-40 and Market Street, according to the DOT.

Construction on that project is scheduled for October 2017, Rick said.

Reporter Tim Buckland can be reached at 910-343-2217 or Tim.Buckland@StarNewsOnline.com.