State transportation officials rolled out some of the nuts and bolts of the five proposed options for a Route 113 bypass during a Sept. 18 workshop and hearing at the Millsboro Civic Center. Officials also provided specifics on the Delaware Department of Transportation’s preferred alternative as selected by a community working group and transportation officials as part of the Route 113 North-South Study.
The blue or preferred alternative, at 16.5 miles long, would be an eastern bypass of Millsboro, Dagsboro and Frankford with on-alignment improvements on Route 113 through Selbyville. It calls for three new bridges over Indian River, Peppers Creek and Vines Creek. There would be interchanges at routes 24, 26 and 20 with connections to Route 24 and Route 26; the overall cost could be as much as $840 million.
Seventy-one households or businesses would be relocated to build the new limited-access highway, including 52 residential, nine agricultural and 10 commercial relocations. In all, more than 353 properties would be affected covering more than 1,000 acres. More than 230 full or partial property acquisitions would be required to make way for the bypass.
Jeff Riegner, a DelDOT consultant with WBA, said in 2000 the Delaware General Assembly approved funding for studies to look at a 40-mile, north-south, limited-access highway from Milford to the Delaware-Maryland line. “They were concerned about the amount of growth and traffic in the area around Route 113 and wanted to make sure there were accommodations for the future,” he said. “This project is the end result.”
Sussex County population is expected to nearly double in the next 40 years, according to DelDOT officials.
Average daily traffic along the Route 113 corridor through Millsboro averages from 14,000 to 20,000 vehicles, but that number increases to as many as 32,000 vehicles per day during the summer months. According to DelDOT, the Route 113-24 intersection is failing during peak hours. There were 425 reported crashes in the area from August 2010 to July 2013; more than 130 crashes resulted in injuries.
Compared to the other alternatives – including two western bypass options – Riegner said the blue alternative provides better road connections to beach routes, does not impact environmental wetlands west of Route 113, impacts the least number of historical sites, provides for the fewest relocations and is the best option to create a new evacuation route for Delaware and Maryland coastal areas.
The scope of the project reaches beyond the Millsboro area; Georgetown and Ellendale working groups selected on-alignment improvements along Route 113. Interchanges would be built to make the highway limited access to alleviate traffic signals. Political and resident opposition has resulted in no work underway in the Milford area.
Comments will be accepted until Friday, Oct. 4, by writing to DelDOT Office of Public Relations, PO Box 778, Dover, DE 19903, bu email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-652-5600. Riegner said all comments and updated technical information will be presented to the Federal Highway Administration for approval. If the project is approved, depending on funding, the first phase of the project could get underway within the next decade. Riegner said the top priority would be section of the bypass around Millsboro.
For more information, go to www.deldot.gov/information/projects/us113/millsboro.
NEXT WEEK: Reaction to the plan.