As the 16-member Five Points Working Group cast their votes on idea No. 76 July 30, more than 200 people crowding the room fell silent in nervous anticipation. When the results appeared on a big screen on the stage of Beacon Middle School’s gym, silence gave way to near-deafening applause as residents along the former Georgetown-to-Lewes railroad celebrated the group’s denial of a roadway proposed to take its place.
The idea was brought to the table by working group members Christian Hudson, a local businessman and developer, and D.J. Hughes, a traffic engineer. The duo had worked together to develop a plan to convert the section of railroad bed that was decommissioned by the state last year into a roadway with a parallel bike trail from Cool Spring to Savannah Road in Lewes.
The state recently announced plans were moving forward on the next phase of the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail for the same section. The project is already out to bid and construction is set to begin in October.
“This trail will unite thousands of people, joining neighborhoods on both sides of the trail,” said resident Elizabeth Kerwin, part of a large group wearing green shirts with “Trails Unite Roads Divide” on the front. “This trail will leave a legacy to future generations.”
Despite the state’s firm plans and investment into a trail for the railroad right of way, hundreds of residents gathered at the last three Five Points Working Group meetings to protest and oppose the idea of adding a roadway to that stretch of trail.
Prior to the vote, Hudson reiterated the working group’s charge, which was to develop recommendations for the Department of Transportation to consider as it makes decisions.
Hughes also made one final plea to working group members.
“It’s never been asked to be constructed,” he said. “I believe this concept deserves to be studied and properly vetted.”
Hughes, Hudson and Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commissioner Keller Hopkins voted in favor of the idea, while I.G. Burton, George Cole, Bob Fischer, Dennis Forney, Todd Lawson, Sen. Ernie Lopez, Lloyd Schmitz, Rep. Steve Smyk and Ann Marie Townshend voted against.
DelDOT representative Josh Thomas abstained. Members Scott Green, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf and Gail Van Gilder were absent July 30.
Hopkins said tough decisions have to be made in order to improve the transportation system.
“It’s hard to please everybody,” he said, pointing to the evolution of I-95, Route 1, Route 113 and Route 13. “Sometimes you have to make a decision and move on. It’s hard to know which way to go, but we have to move forward.”
It was the second consecutive Monday working group members spent voting on the 103 ideas developed from members and the public to improve traffic and safety in the Five Points area.
One idea, similar to the Hudson-Hughes Highway, was to build a new road along the Junction and Breakwater Trail from Lewes to Rehoboth Beach. Although the idea had little vocal opposition from the public, the group unanimously voted against it.
The working group’s meetings resulted in a number of out-of-the-box ideas to solve the issues at Five Points and along Route 1. One idea was to convert Savannah Road and New Road to one-way roads in and out of Lewes. That idea was defeated unanimously.
Other ideas were providing a place on Route 1 for landlords to provide keys for Rehoboth renters and to stagger the rental turnover day to avoid gridlock on Saturdays. Both were defeated.
Notable ideas that will move forward to DelDOT include a study of pedestrian bridges over Route 1, a study to expand transit service to the Red Mill Pond area, a study to develop a system to alert travelers when places like Cape Henlopen State Park are full, and a study of an overpass at Five Points.
The group was also in favor of a number of new roads or intersection improvements, including improvements at Old Landing and Warrington roads, a new road parallel to Plantation Road from Mulberry Knoll Road to Route 9, a new road connecting Postal Lane to Old Landing Road/Airport Road and a new road from Route 24 to Old Landing Road near Arnell Creek.
The group voted in favor of 78 of the 103 proposed ideas, which will now become recommendations to DelDOT. The next step is for the working group to prioritize the items, expected to occur at the Monday, Sept. 24 meeting.
Rich Barrasso, a member of the group Sussex Alliance for Responsible Growth, aired his frustrations with the group’s lack of ideas related to land use and its impact on traffic issues. He said only five of the 103 ideas deal with land use.
“There’s a history of a lack of foresight by state and county officials in ignoring the decline of level of service of the roads in the county, and a willingness to give a pass to developers in the funding necessary for infrastructure improvements,” he said.
He pointed to the recent positive recommendation by Sussex planning and zoning for two hotels less than a mile from Five Points.
The public is invited to comment on all recommendations offered by the working group at a public workshop from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 27, at Beacon Middle School.
- Study feasibility of installing a “Your Speed” display on southbound Route 1 at Nassau Road*
- Study feasibility of pedestrian bridges over Route 1 at specific locations
- Study feasibility of increasing proposed Route 24 bypass in Millsboro to two lanes in each direction
- Study options for signage to direct appropriate traffic under the Nassau bridge*
- Evaluate one-way service roads as part of the Minos Conaway grade separation project
- Evaluate use of land made available by narrowing lanes for landscape and multi-modal trails or parks
- Study the feasibility, benefits, costs and impacts of service roads along Route 1
- Study the feasibility of transit service to tie the Milton/Red Mill Pond/Minos Conaway Road area into transit network
- Improve lane markings and signs at Five Points, Dartmouth Drive/Kings Highway and Plantation Road/Beaver Dam Road*
- Study the feasibility of a parking management system to alert travelers when parking lots at major destinations are full, e.g., Cape Henlopen State Park
- Initiate a capital project to improve the intersection of Old Landing and Warrington roads*
- Study the feasibility of a grade separation at Five Points
- Study the feasibility of providing shelters at bus stops
- Develop concepts and estimates for bringing roads in the study area to DelDOT standard, including shoulders
- Study enhancing New Road per byway master plan
- Evaluate benefits, costs and impacts of a new road parallel to Plantation Road connecting Mulberry Knoll Road to Route 9
- Develop concepts and estimates for filling all sidewalk gaps along Savannah Road from Five Points to Lewes*
- Determine if traffic signal is warranted at Route 9 and Minos Conaway Road*
- Evaluate short-term improvements at Route 9, Plantation Road and Beaver Dam Road aka Malfunction Junction*
- Study the feasibility of mounting clear, consistent address signage along Route 1
- Evaluate the potential benefits, costs and impacts of a new through road connecting Postal Lane with the intersection of Old Landing and Airport roads
- Study feasibility of an all-way stop and/or a roundabout at Beaver Dam and Kendale roads
- Study feasibility of a hop-on, hop-off van or jitney service loop for Lewes
- Consider whether CTP funding should be allocated based on population growth
- Study feasibility of a park and ride lot on Route 24 at edge of the study area
- Study feasibility of extending the eastbound widening of Route 24 to Love Creek
- Study feasibility of of widening or adding through lanes on Plantation Road from Route 24 to Cedar Grove Road and Postal Lane*
- Study feasibility of providing access from Beacon Middle School and Love Creek Elementary onto Mulberry Knoll Road
- Evaluate the benefits, costs and impacts of a new road to connect Route 24 near Beacon Middle School with Old Landing Road near Arnell Creek
- Consider modifications to land development requirements that require additional buffers/setbacks for all new developments for future road expansion*
- Ensure cost savings from transportation projects within the study area are reinvested in projects within the study area
- Continue transportation improvement district studies both east and west of Route 1
- Develop concepts and estimates for filling in all sidewalk gaps along New Road and Old Orchard Road*
- Improve advance acquisition process to allow DelDOT to more quickly acquire land needed for transportation improvements and acquire available land within the Five Points study area*
- Improve the intersection of Cave Neck, Sweetbriar and Hudson roads*
- Endorse “don’t block the box” legislation with camera enforcement
- Study alternatives to slow southbound traffic approaching Five Points
- Develop design guidance to separate pedestrians and bicyclists from highway traffic using aesthetic treatments
- Study access management opportunities along Route 1, including potential connections between businesses*
- Study feasibility of lengthening left- and right-turn lanes throughout the study area*
- Study feasibility of restriping two-land sections of Savannah Road with a two-way left-turn lane*
- Study feasibility of improving Minos Conaway Road with appropriate lane widths, shoulder widths, turn lanes, curvature, etc.*
- Study feasibility of closing north end of Salt Marsh Boulevard
- Study feasibility of providing a location on Route 1 prior to Rehoboth for landlords to provide keys to tenants
- Develop more detailed concepts and estimates for planned byway improvements
- Introduce legislation to increase the gas tax*
- Evaluate benefits, costs and impacts of converting Savannah Road and New Road to one-way travel*
- Evaluate potential benefits, costs and impacts of a road and trail along the decommissioned railroad right of way, possibly from Cool Spring to Savannah Road
- Evaluate potential benefits, costs and impacts of a new road along the Junction & Breakwater Trail right of way*
- Encourage Uber-type transportation to congested areas like downtown Lewes/Rehoboth; provide designated drop-off and pick-up locations
- Study feasibility of online, fee-access reserved parking at state parks
- Identify strategic locations for electric vehicle charging stations
No motion/no vote
- Study feasibility of staggering beach rentals so they don’t all turn over on Saturdays
- Introduce legislation to raise revenue through a mileage-based user fee
* - unanimous decision