Camden bypass to be discussed at meeting tonight

The proposed Camden Bypass, Option B (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

The proposed Camden Bypass, Option B (Delaware State News/Matt Bittle)

CAMDEN — For years, drivers have passed through Camden and Wyoming at nearly all hours of the day. Nearby development has led to more motorists taking Camden Wyoming Avenue, and that has become a hassle for residents.

The heavy traffic has even damaged some buildings preserved on the National Register of Historic Places, with vibrations from large trucks leading to cracked bricks.

All that, said Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover, is why the Camden Bypass is needed.

The bypass, which has been in the works since 2009, would prevent a flood of cars that currently moves through town.

“The amount of traffic is getting ridiculous,” Sen. Bushweller said.

The road would connect Del. 10 with Upper King Road by the Camden town hall and then run out to U.S. 13, passing by South Street. As a result, the number of cars heading through the towns would become much smaller, and that benefits the town residents, supporters of the Camden Bypass say.

The bypass will be one of the main topics of discussion tonight at a meeting hosted by several Kent County legislators: Sen. Bushweller, Rep. Lyndon Yearick, R-Camden, and Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Cheswold. Representatives from the Department of Transportation, state police, Caesar Rodney School District, Levy Court and the towns will be in attendance at Nellie Stokes Elementary School in Dover at 7.

Much discussion will center on the bypass, but the “purpose goes well beyond” that, according to Sen. Bushweller.

Former Rep. Donald Blakey, a Camden Republican defeated in the primary election last year, hosted regular gatherings to listen to members of the public, and that’s a practice Sen. Bushweller is hoping to extend.

The Kent County Sports Complex, which is on track to break ground in the fall after years of delays, also will be discussed. Citizens will be given the chance to raise specific concerns they have, such as about education.

Due to the large number of complaints Camden and Wyoming residents have registered in regard to traffic, the road proposal figures to take center stage. That does not mean it’s set to begin any time soon, however.

Because of a lack of funding, up to $780 million of road projects could go unfunded. Lawmakers from all caucuses are working on infrastructure proposals, with the goal of revitalizing the Transportation Trust Fund.

The bypass is high on the list of construction projects DelDOT hopes to do, especially as anticipated development means even more traffic will be passing through Camden and Wyoming soon. However, questions surround the proposal right now.

“We don’t have enough money to do everything that everybody needs done,” said Ralph Reeb, DelDOT’s assistant director of planning.

There is no timetable for the construction, which has been in Camden’s project plan since 2013 and is simply dependent on getting funding.

Sen. Bushweller is hoping for a good turnout but does not have any specific expectations. He believes the meeting could serve to educate civilians on the need for infrastructure funding, which could take the form of Division of Motor Vehicles fee hikes or a gas tax increase.

“My view is the more people who understand the bypass is the solution to the terrific traffic problems in those two towns, the quicker people will be open to solutions,” he said.

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