Council must hire traffic expert, insist on safe roads
Sussex County Council is considering a new memorandum of understanding with state transportation officials to outline how the two agencies will work together when a developer proposes a new project.
A hearing on the memorandum takes place at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.
Under the proposal, Sussex officials – including the county administrator, planning and zoning director and attorneys – would be permitted to provide input when DelDOT negotiates with developers over required roadway improvements, although DelDOT would have the final say.
While the current memorandum applies only to rezoning applications, the update would apply to rezoning, subdivision, residential-planned-community and residential conditional-use applications.
This proposed memorandum is a step forward, and it comes just as the county planning and zoning director has resigned, leaving the door open to add new expertise to county staff.
To be effective during negotiations about the region’s constantly increasing traffic, Sussex County must have its own highly qualified traffic engineer sitting at the table – an idea already proposed by planning Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson.
Beyond who is participating in the discussions, county officials must use this memorandum to insist that new developments do not degrade the county’s already overtaxed roadways.
As proposed, when DelDOT determines a project would change the level of service on nearby roads, county officials could not approve an application unless the developer provides road improvements to maintain at least a level of service D.
That designation means “approaching unstable flow,” typically used to describe urban areas during rush hour. In other words, slightly better than failing.
If new projects are not held to a higher standard, it won’t be long before Sussex County roads are mired in constant, rush-hour-style traffic.
Sussex residents deserve better.
New projects must be held to higher, safer standards for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, and developers must be required to pay for improvements to keep Sussex County roads moving.
This new memorandum of understanding may be in effect for decades, so let’s get it right.