Thoughts on projected growth in Sussex County

March 10, 2023

It was somewhat reassuring to read in Ron MacArthur’s article published in the Jan. 17 edition that it would take five to 10 years for Ellendale’s population to grow from 500 to 5,500 residents and that Milton’s population would no more than double if projects already in the pipeline are completed. This modest growth is significantly below what I forecast in my best-case scenario, which contemplates every field and parcel of land inside the Milford/Dewey/Millsboro triangle to be fully developed by 2030. My high-growth scenario for the same time period anticipates the development of all lands inside the Milford/Dewey/Laurel triangle, but I have already received feedback that I misplaced the tip of my triangle, which some argue should be Dover rather than Milford. I am willing to compromise with these critics, but I still reject the doomsday scenarios of Cassandras who predict that all agricultural lands in the Delmarva Peninsula will be covered with houses and shopping malls by 2040. This would require tripling the capacity of the Bay Bridge, at a time when public officials are struggling to gather the funds necessary to build the two additional three-lane spans already considered unavoidable in well-informed circles. 

I was also gratified to read that no member of the general public would sit on the DelDOT committee in charge of the Coastal Corridors study, but I was somewhat distressed when you reported that the public would be consulted. Everyone knows by now that public consultations are a recipe for disaster, as demonstrated for instance by the constant traffic jams on Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth. Surely, these and other bottlenecks would not exist if members of the public had not felt necessary to add their two cents. Their haphazard comments serve only to distract government officials from their more important work. It is very hard to imagine why intelligent public servants would feel necessary to dilute the opinions of their highly qualified experts with the drivel uttered by old folks like myself or by working people too busy to learn the intricacies of complex issues.

Coming back to Ron MacArthur’s article, I was pleased to know that turn lanes and four-way stop intersections are now in the panoply of solutions available to improve traffic flow in the region. We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel … but I was puzzled to read that traffic projections for Route 16 were capped at 15,000 vehicles per day in 2050 compared to more than 10,000 vehicles per day last summer. Of course, with climate change, it is possible that by 2050 all beach towns between Bethany and Lewes will be accessible only by scuba diving. With the total submersion of all beach resorts, the roughly 1% annual traffic growth anticipated by DelDOT consultants for the coming 27 years seems plausible. Personally, however, I would plan for 20,000 vehicles per day for Route 16 by 2030 rather than 15,000 vehicles per day by 2050. Just my two cents.

Thierry Poirey

P.S. Oh, and for those who may have doubts, some of this is to be taken with a grain of salt ...

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