Public gets another look at Kings Highway plan

Discussion centers on five roundabouts from Dartmouth to Freeman
February 23, 2024

Lewes residents got another look at Delaware Department of Transportation’s plan to widen Kings Highway during a Feb. 20 workshop at Cape Henlopen High School.

The major feature of the plan includes five roundabouts at four existing intersections and one yet-to-be built intersection at The Lodge at Historic Lewes and the approved Mitchell’s Corner housing project. 

The four remaining roundabouts would be at the intersections of Dartmouth Drive, Clay Road, Gills Neck Road-Cape Henlopen High School and Freeman Highway.

DelDOT estimates construction of the $28 million project will begin in 2028-29 and take two to three years to complete.

The Kings Highway/Gills Neck Road master plan, written by the City of Lewes, DelDOT and the Historic Lewes Byway Committee, was also considered in the plans.

A large crowd turned out to look at the project boards and video. They were able to make comments and ask questions of the Whitman, Requardt & Associates consultants.

Charles McLeod, director of DelDOT community relations, said the staff will evaluate public comments and take those into account in the design phase. He said once design is completed, DelDOT will have another public meeting with more details about the timeline, but the public comment period ends Monday, March 25.

Many of those attending questioned the need for five roundabouts in area about one-and-a-half miles long, while others said they supported the plan, including the Historic Lewes Byway Committee.

In a press release, the committee outlined several reasons for its support, including the proposed landscaping, traffic calming provided by the roundabouts, improved safety for all modes of travel, including bicycles and pedestrians. They also support the plan for increased bus stops.

On the committee’s recommendation, DelDOT engaged national roundabout experts Kittelson & Associates to complete design and safety peer review of the project, which was completed in 2023.

Mary Roth, chair of the committee, said Kittelson completed its review along with a listening session held with corridor stakeholders.

“Kittelson confirmed landscaping, correctly placed, calms traffic and enhances safety, especially in roundabouts,” she said. “Kittelson also recommended several safety improvements in the roundabouts for pedestrians and cyclists, which have been included.”

However, the Kings Highway Business Association, a group of more than 50 locally owned businesses, is opposed to the plan, especially the proposed road improvements from the Lodge at Historic Lewes-Mitchell’s Corner roundabout to the Freeman Highway split.

Mark Chura, who owns the Brush Factory with his wife Christine, said the way the project is designed, without turn lanes, would put people out of business. At several businesses, customers would have to drive past the business, use a roundabout and return to the businesses.

In the area of the businesses near Freeman Highway, the roadway would be two lanes with a roundabout at the Freeman-Kings intersection and a one-way service road to access businesses closest to the Freeman Highway roundabout.

“A center turn lane is all we are asking so we can survive,” Chura said.

He said he has been meeting with DelDOT staff for the past two years to express his concerns.

“All local businesses in this area are at peril,” he said.

About the project

The project includes reconstruction at all intersections, including five roundabouts, removal of traffic signals, a shared-use path on both sides of the highway, sidewalks, median, stormwater management, roundabout landscaping, and pedestrian and bicycle crossings. Kings Highway would be widened to four lanes from the Dartmouth Drive roundabout to the Gills Neck Road roundabout, where it would then be two lanes. A landscaped median would be in place between the lanes to create a boulevard-type look.

Connections would be made to the Lewes-to-Georgetown and Breakwater trails. The current Lewes in Bloom garden and the lighthouse at the Freeman-Kings split would be relocated to the center of the roundabout.

Bryan Behrens, DelDOT’s group engineer of project development south, said the plan allows for anticipated growth in the area, and most widening will occur on the south side of the highway. He said the roundabouts have safety benefits, work better operationally, create a calming effect for traffic and do away with level of service (waiting times) at traffic signals.

The project includes four construction phases: First – Dartmouth Road roundabout, Freeman Highway roundabout, work on the southern and eastern sides; second – work on a portion of northern and western sides, Clay Road roundabout, new intersection at The Lodge at Historic Lewes and Mitchell’s Corner roundabout; third – Gills Neck Road roundabout, complete northern and western sides; fourth – curbs and medians, complete final paving and striping.

Referring to the cost, McLeod said, “At this stage, the $28 million is very preliminary, and we expect that this number will be larger once the right-of-way acquisition costs are known, and then what the actual cost of construction is when this is bid in four years.”

Proposed timeline

2016 – Kings Highway/Gills Neck Road master plans

Feb. 2022 – Virtual workshop

Spring-summer 2023 – Revisions to plan

Feb. 20, 2024 – Public workshop, design is underway

Winter 2025 – Right-of-way acquisition (takes about three years)

2027-28 – Utility relocation (one year)

Fiscal years 2028-32 – Construction (three to four years).

Comments will be accepted until Monday, March 25. To make a comment, email, mail to DelDOT Public Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903, or call 800-652-5600 or 302-760-2080.

For more information, go to:

Read more about the project in the Friday, March 1 edition.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter