Rep. John Atkins says the message is clear. “If DelDOT is really interested in public comment on the Route 113 bypass, I think they heard it loud and clear that the preferred alternative is not what the people want,” the Millsboro Democrat said.
“We all agree something needs to be done, but it's not the preferred alternative,” he said after a recent workshop and public hearing at the town's civic center on the proposed bypass.
The majority of the more than 50 people who spoke at public hearings in Millsboro and Selbyville last week were against DelDOT's preferred route, a new 16.5-mile road that would take an eastern path to bypass Millsboro, Dagsboro and Frankford. Atkins said their opposition reflects the consensus of most people he talks to in the 41st District. “There is no political will for this,” Atkins said.
The “blue route” preferred alternative – one of five options considered by DelDOT and a community-based working group – would also include on-alignment improvements on Route 113 through Selbyville. The preferred alternative calls for three new bridges over Indian River, Pepper 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 and take decades to complete.
Atkins said there are two other alternatives that should be considered. He said many people support on-alignment improvements on Route 113 through Millsboro. “But we were told by DelDOT that the road would shut down full access to businesses and of course businesses don't support that,” he said.
He said a third north-south lane could be added that would not shut down access to the business corridor along the highway. “It's a win-win,” he said, adding it's similar to the road set up on Route 13 through the Salisbury, Md., commercial corridor.
He said another option would be to build an eastern bypass but move the route about one mile to the north to pass through land already owned by the state. “It would not affect any houses or farms and would save the state millions in land acquisition,” he said.
Dave Potter of Millsboro agreed with Atkins that most people oppose the preferred alternative. He said a group of concerned citizens has presented two other route suggestions to deal with traffic issues on Route 24 and Route 113 to DelDOT and local legislators. One is a connector-truck route to ease congestion on Route 24, similar to the truck route around Georgetown, Potter said. “We know the east-west flow around Millsboro is horrendous,” he said.
Potter said the route would pass through state land, Townsend farm land and land owned by Mountaire. “The route has to be put in the right place with the least damage to homes and farms,” he said.
The other route would provide on-alignment improvements on Route 113 in Millsboro with a through-lane with exits for local residents to get on and off.
He said no one from DelDOT has responded to their proposal. “Nobody wants the blue route. People were overwhelming against it at the public hearing,” Potter said.
Comments on the project can be submitted until Friday, Oct. 4, online at deldot.gov.