A long-talked-about roadway connecting New Road and Pilottown Road in Lewes could go out for bid this spring, but officials say funding for the project is limited.
Charles Salkin, director of Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Division of Parks and Recreation briefed Lewes Mayor and City Council at the panel’s Jan. 14 meeting.
The connector road would link New and Pilottown roads and provide an alternate route for vehicles towing boats by to the state’s public boat ramp.
The city and state want to reduce towed boat traffic that turns onto Front Street and continues along Pilottown Road to and from the boat ramp.
Turning clearance for large boats, typically pulled by large pick-up trucks, is tight at Savannah Road and Front Street and also at Pilottown and New roads.
Officials say reducing boat traffic on a major portion of Pilottown Road would improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. State and city officials acknowledge that they cannot require drivers towing boats to use the connector road, but hope people will use it.
Salkin said the initial proposal to build the road was made more than a decade ago, before construction of the boat ramp. “This alignment is confirmed. It’s not very complex in its design. It would be a simple, two-lane road with a parallel bicycle path,” Salkin said.
He said 90 percent of the project’s engineering has been completed and a review of bid requirements could be finished in about a month.
He said engineers examined shifting the roadway’s alignment slightly east or west, but concluded the change would be costly and without benefit.
The entire road will be constructed on state-owned property and would be managed by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
Delaware Department of Transportation originally estimated the roadway would cost $4.4 million, Salkin said, but parks and recreation has only about $1.8 million for the project.
He said as much as half the estimated cost will go toward rebuilding an existing causeway that engineers say must be rebuilt.
During causeway reconstruction, access will not be interrupted between New Road and Canary Creek and between Pilottown Road and the UD campus.
The most costly segment of the project, he said, would be new road construction from the causeway to Pilottown Road.
Salkin said the state is planning to bid the job so that the money on hand would pay for the entire project.
“If we don’t have enough funds to finish it, then we won’t open it,” he said.
Salkin said there is no money for landscaping and signage, but both would be addressed later.
He said at the University of Delaware’s request, the new road would intersect with the road linking to the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment campus.
The City of Lewes, DNREC, DelDOT and UD might all share road maintenance responsibilities, Salkin said. The city is currently responsible for maintenance of the segment from New Road to the Canary Creek development.
He said a detailed map of the project’s elements would be available to the public in a few weeks.
For additional information, visit city hall, the Lewes Public Library or go to www.ci.lewes.de.us.