DelDOT set to fast-track Cave Neck overpass

Overbrook developer to contribute to cost of intersection upgrade
April 16, 2019

Delaware Department of Transportation officials want to speed up construction of a new interchange at Cave Neck Road and Route 1. It's one of three interchange projects along Route 1 in the Cape Region scheduled over the next six years.

Drew Boyce, director of Delaware Department of Transportation planning, said officials are working to move up a projected 2023 start date. “It's not going to be as much as two years,” he said, without pinpointing a date.

At issue are the number of houses to be constructed before the interchange is complete.

Negotiations are ongoing with developers of projects on both sides of Route 1 at the Cave Neck Road intersection.

Pair of housing projects at intersection

DelDOT officials are requiring Overbrook Real Estate Partners LLC, developer of the approved Overbrook Meadows and proposed Overbrook Meadows West, 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.

Already approved is Overbrook Meadows, a 135-lot single-family cluster subdivision in the rear section of the 114-acre parcel on the east side of Route 1. A public hearing on Overbrook Meadows West, Phase 2 of the project, occurred April 11; it includes 82 single-family lots on 43 acres.

DelDOT officials have not determined how much the developer will be required to pay toward the interchange. However, Boyce said, it would be less than the $8 million offer based on the original application, a rezoning for an 850,000-square-foot shopping center. That application was denied by Sussex County Council.

Originally, state transportation officials approved only 200 vehicle trips or 20 homes from the parcel until an interchange was built. That has changed. Boyce said DelDOT may allow an increase in the number of trips, allowing for more homes to be built. He said the developer wants to sell more homes to generate capital to raise its contribution to DelDOT to partially fund the interchange.

“It would allow for cash to flow our way for the project,” Boyce said.

Recent correspondence from DelDOT shows up to 130 homes could be built with temporary access to Route 1 from the northern section of the parcel.

An agreement would include cash and property for rights of way along the highway. Boyce said DelDOT would like the land to be dedicated to the state.

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

“The county doesn't contemplate a lot of growth on the east side of Route 1 in that area, but it's better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

Before construction of the interchange, Boyce said, the proposed plan would include temporary access to Route 1 with a right-in-right-out exchange with motorists going south required to make a U-turn at a crossover to travel southbound on Route 1.

Boyce said the safety aspects of the proposal are still being evaluated. He said this summer or fall, DelDOT will unveil options for the grade-separated interchange during a public workshop. One of those options could include a frontage road serving properties on the western side of Route 1. That option would also remove some Route 1 crossovers. “That would impact the cost, but we are looking long term. We want to do this right for the future,” he said.

Ultimately, all traffic would be funneled to the Cave Neck interchange.

Hudson Management, developer of the proposed Chappell Farm project, 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 – has been reviewed by state planners and agencies but has not surfaced on a Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission agenda.

Two other projects on the books

Construction is scheduled to begin by 2021 on the first of three proposed grade-separated overpass projects in the Cape Region.

In DelDOT's capital plan are projects at the Route 16-Route 1 and Minos Conaway-Route 1 intersections. The Route 16 project is scheduled to begin in summer 2021 and be completed in fall 2023. The Minos Conaway project in Lewes – which also includes service roads and access to New Road – will start in spring 2023 and be completed in fall 2025.

Boyce said work on projects would likely overlap.

He said interchange project costs vary depending on the number of access points, ramps and frontage roads. The interchanges constructed so far along Route 1 in Kent County and New Castle County range in price from $14 million to $20 million.

Work takes two to three years to complete. However, Boyce said, traffic can typically use the overpass bridge before all work is completed, which is occurring at the Little Heaven interchange project.

Developer presents plans for Overbrook Meadows West to Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission.  See a story in the Friday, April 19 edition.