DelDOT has five options for Route 1-Cave Neck interchange

Design decision due in early 2020, with construction to start in 2023
October 18, 2019

Delaware Department of Transportation officials have rolled out five alternatives for a grade-separated interchange at the Route 1-Cave Neck Road intersection north of Lewes.

Transportation officials presented the alternatives during a well-attended Oct. 15 workshop at Lewes Fire Station 2.

DelDOT engineer and Project Manager Calvin Esham said three alternatives show Cave Neck Road going over Route 1, where two alternatives show Route 1 going over Cave Neck Road.

Roundabouts for access to roads and properties east and west of the intersection are included in each of the alternatives, with as many as four proposed in one of the alternatives. Connector roads, some proposed to be paid for by property owners, are included in each of the alternatives for access to properties east and west of the intersection.

In most alternatives, access to and from southbound Route 1 to Cave Neck Road would be via a frontage road and roundabouts. Access to northbound Route 1 would be from roundabouts and connector roads.

Esham said DelDOT officials will select a preferred alternative based on public input, and the cost of construction and right-of-way purchase. He said a selection should be made at the start of 2020 with another public workshop to be scheduled in the spring of 2020 to present the preferred alternative to the public.

The roadwork is one of three planned interchange projects along Route 1 from Nassau Bridge to Route 16 over the next seven years. The Route 16-Route 1 project is scheduled to start in summer 2021 and be completed in 2024; the Minos Conaway-Route 1 project is scheduled to begin in spring 2023 and be finished in fall 2025; and the Cave Neck Road-Route 1 project is scheduled to start in 2023 and be completed in 2026.

As part of the Minos Conaway project, DelDOT officials have plans to eliminate nine crossovers in the Route 1 corridor north of Five Points.


Developers will help fund project

Unlike the other local projects, developers will contribute money and land for the Cave Neck Road interchange due to the projects' traffic impact on Route 1.

DelDOT officials are requiring Overbrook Real Estate Partners LLC, developer of Overbrook Meadows and Overbrook Meadows West, on the east side of Route 1, to contribute to the cost of the interchange based on traffic generated by more than 230 proposed homes on the 114-acre parcel. Because the parcel falls within the state's Route 1 Corridor Capacity Preservation Program, access to the roadway is restricted without DelDOT-mandated improvements.

DelDOT officials have not determined how much the developer will be required to pay. DelDOT Director of Planning Drew Boyce recently told Sussex County Council it would be less than the $8 million offer based on the original application for the parcel, a rezoning for an 850,000-square-foot shopping center. That application was denied by county council.

Based on the number of lots approved by county council, DelDOT is allowing construction of up to 130 homes with temporary access to Route 1 from the northern section of the parcel before construction of the interchange is complete.

The proposed plan would include temporary access to Route 1 with a right-in-right-out exchange onto northbound Route 1, while motorists going south will be required to make a U-turn at a crossover to access southbound Route 1.

The Overbrook developer will also be required to provide cross-access easements for interconnections to properties north and south of the housing projects. Traffic from all new developments would have to use the interchange.

Esham said connector roads, roundabouts and even signalized intersections connecting the Overbrook parcels to the interchange have not been finalized on the alternatives. He said design, timing and cost are to be determined.

Hudson Management, developer of the proposed Chappell Farm project on land northwest of the intersection, would also be required to pay a portion of the cost of road work and dedicate road frontage. That project – 156 residential units and 45,000 square feet of retail space on 14.5 acres – has been reviewed by state planners and agencies but has not yet surfaced on a Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.


Comments on alternatives

Several residents questioned access from residences and businesses off Willow Creek Road across from Red Mill Pond. As proposed, motorists would have right-in, right-out access only from Route 1 with no option to cross over the highway to head south.

Motorists leaving Willow Creek Road would have to travel north and make a U-turn, possibly at the Route 16 overpass, to get to the southbound lanes of Route 1.

Esham said a crossover between Route 1 lanes would not be available, but motorists could use the proposed interchange or a proposed connector road.

He said the preferred access to and from Route 1 to the area would be via a connector road east of the highway. He said, depending on the selected alternative, it's possible DelDOT would fund construction of the road. “We understand that people want the shortest distance for movements, but I think they'll be happier getting on and off Route 1 safely, and not face the delays they have at least eight months out of the year,” he said.

D.J. Hughes, a Milton resident and traffic engineer, said the alternatives with Route 1 going over Cave Neck Road would have the least impact on surrounding properties.

Hughes told DelDOT officials that Route 1 intersection work is out of sequence, in his opinion.

“I've been beating this drum for a long time. They should do the Cave Neck Road and Minos Conaway Road intersections first before doing the Route 16 intersection,” he said.

In addition, he said, DelDOT, and not individual property owners, should fund proposed connector roads.

Rich Borrasso, representing Sussex Alliance for Responsible Growth, said the big surprise was the option for an elevated grade similar to the proposed Route 16 separated grade. He said the elevated grade could cost as much as 25 percent to 40 percent more than other options.

He said three factors affecting the project include the proposed Chappell Farms project, the Overbrook housing developments and the cost. “One option had a good bit of right of way taken from Overbrook, and the scale of Chappell Farms could have a big influence on the design,” Borrasso said.

Written comments on the alternatives can be submitted until Friday, Nov. 15, to DelDOT Community Relations, PO Box 778, Dover, DE 19903.


See the alternatives at:


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