Sussex needs to listen to DelDOT about traffic

August 7, 2014

County council members listened intently this week to a DelDOT presentation on the realities of special event traffic congestion management as experienced in Delaware at Firefly and Punkin Chunkin. DelDOT says it needs a full year to work with event organizers for the proposed music festival off Hollyville Road south of Georgetown.

They must have detailed plans for the entry roads as well as the internal road layout of the event space. How will vehicles get through entry booths, get to their RV camping space, parking for day trippers and those coming to camp with friends in RVs? What about the trailer vehicles coming and going with entertainment equipment?

The organizers for the proposed event on Baker farm lands have only offered sketch maps showing the perimeter, nothing regarding the internal layouts. This is the organizer’s responsibility - not for DelDOT to do for them at taxpayer expense. DelDOT spoke critically about event organizers. They lack serious traffic management experience. Without extensive preparation of entry roads and internal circulation roads, backups quickly spill out, triggering gridlock on major roads.

Organizers often claim they know how to do it, but experience demonstrates they do not. Council members were very sensitive to these new realities and listened closely to the sound advice given them by DelDOT. Times have changed, and we need no more experiments with traffic control. No slapdash “this might work if...” decisions.

Harrington Fairgrounds and Dover Downs are the two established locations cited by DelDOT as having established layouts and facilities for handling special events with 20,000 and up (of course Firefly hit 80,000 this year).

They can take on events like the proposed music festival without a costly and extensive planning “process.” Councilman Cole’s plea to do special events outside the summer season also needs to be listened to. Finally, there is continued upset among local residents about precarious situations in their testimonies at the two hearings. Move on to Harrington!

Phoebe Cottingham

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