Sussex, DelDOT improve communication
Sussex County residents often complain about the Delaware Department of Transportation and its ability to keep pace with development.
In the past, those criticisms had some validity. Today, no one can say DelDOT is not making major investments in the county, as there are $1.3 billion worth of projects planned over the next six years. Transportation and county officials have also made strides to open lines of communication.
The fact DelDOT does nearly all roadwork and maintains nearly every road in the county, yet does not make land-use decisions, creates a unique situation. Without constant interaction, roadblocks can occur.
It was not uncommon to hear county elected officials say, “That's DelDOT's problem, not ours.”
Council President Mike Vincent and former DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan set out to improve communications in a realization the two are partners in development and future planning. That relationship has blossomed in recent years.
Over the past five years, DelDOT and county officials have worked to improve communication and approve initiatives aimed at better planning for development and road upgrades.
The county and DelDOT created the Henlopen Transportation Improvement District to better coordinate road work and development; another TID is planned in southeastern Sussex. They are updating a memorandum of understanding pertaining to better coordination and improved scheduling of development and transportation improvements.
DelDOT is also working with Sussex officials to update its Route 1 Corridor Capacity Plan in an effort to better plan for development while still preserving the vital corridor's capacity.
In addition, DelDOT planners are available to answer questions during land-use public hearings.
As part of that improved communication, DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski and Deputy Secretary and Chief Engineer Shante Hastings provided an in-depth report to Sussex County Council on March 28.
That long list includes more than a billion dollars in projects, including $300 million alone in the Henlopen TID. The unprecedented plan includes several multi-million-dollar grade-separated interchanges along the Route 1 and Route 113 corridors, expansion of trails, intersection improvements, several roundabouts, new traffic signals, road widening and initiatives aimed at making driving in the county safer.
Sussex County and DelDOT have a unique – and at times complicated – relationship. It's vital that officials maintain open lines of communication, which in turn benefits the public who travels the roads in Sussex.