Concerns Raised Over Proposed Millsboro Bypass
MILLSBORO, Del. - Plans for a bypass route around Millsboro in Sussex County are raising concerns for neighbors and at least one lawmaker."The main problem with this plan is that it calls for a four lane highway or dual system with clover leafs after crossing Route 30," state Sen. Joe Booth, R-Georgetown, said in a guest commentary in the Sussex County Post.
The Delaware Department of Transportation is exploring options to connect U.S. 113 with Route 24 northeast of Millsboro. The route is not final; two suggested paths are under federal review.
In a telephone interview, Booth said a 300 foot wide bypass is too big and would take up too much land. He also takes issue with engineers' suggestion to make the bypass four lanes. Booth said connecting a four lane bypass to Route 24, which currently is two lanes, doesn't make sense.
"When taking these into account, there is just no need for us to build a 300 foot wide road system in a legitimate pristine part of our county," Booth wrote.
DelDOT spokesmen Geoff Sundstrom and Mike Williams said the 300 feet includes not only the pavement but also the median and buffers on each side. The state feels four lanes are necessary for the bypass to accommodate growing traffic well into the future, though the design is not final, Sundstrom said. While Route 24 is currently two lanes, it could be expanded down the road, Sundstrom said.
Much of the controversial Route 113 bypass project was put on hold by Gov. Jack Markell after losing support from Sussex lawmakers. After an August meeting including legislators, DelDOT announced it would continue planning for a bypass around Millsboro.
Traffic through the downtown area easily slows to a crawl. Drivers said congestion is most severe in the summer as people head to the beach. One way or another, many agree that something must be done.
DelDOT estimates the road project will cost around $172 million. Sundstrom said the state is committed to working with lawmakers on the project.
An informal group of Millsboro residents is also raising concerns about the impacts of a bypass on potential historic sites.
"We would like to see the historical significance of the area preserved in some form or fashion, understanding that progress has to be made," said Ed Carey.
Carey said his group has discovered part of an old mill, cemetery, church and bridge dating back to the 1700's on lands that could be used for the new road. He is also tracking a path that once connected Millsboro to the old county seat in Lewes. Carey said he is not opposed to a bypass but is concerned about its impact.
"We'd just like to see this preserved and gain as much knowledge as we can from what's here and to save that, document it, before anything might happen," he said.
DelDOT will conduct historic and environmental reviews before building. Sundstrom said the state realizes a project of this size could have widespread impact; the goal is to minimize the impact on the surrounding area.
A decision by the federal government on the route of the bypass likely won't come for another year, Sundstrom said.
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