DelDOT looking to widen US 13 in part of Kent County

Camden resident Brent Stokes, left, questions Mike Perrotta of Century Engineering during a Delaware Department of Transportation public workshop at Caesar Rodney High School Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — Congestion hit the area again Wednesday afternoon.

Citizens concerned about heavy traffic on U.S. 13 in the Camden, South Dover and Wyoming area crowded around several displays and maps looking forward.

The Delaware Department of Transportation hosted a three-hour public workshop at Caesar Rodney High to unveil very preliminary design plans to add third lanes both directions on the highway. The project’s early cost projection to widen 3.4 highway miles from four lanes to six is $65 million.

The public began to arrive several minutes before the scheduled 4 p.m. start, and six DelDOT and five design consultants stayed busy providing information and answering the questions of approximately 120 attendees.

According to DelDOT project manager Jim Satterfield, public support in widening the roadway from Lochmeath Way to the Puncheon Run Connector in the first phase was almost unanimous. Construction is projected to commence in spring 2021 if Capital Transportation Plan funding remains in place.

“Many property owners who are directly impacted had some concerns but we explained we were very early in the design process and would work with them individually as we advanced the design,” he said.

DelDOT is conducting a study to analyze current and future 2045 traffic in the Camden, Wyoming and south Dover area and seeking the public’s advice as well.

One of the first arrivals was Camden-Wyoming resident Bobby Golden, who studied the boards intently, including those introducing two potential bypass projects as well. Mr. Golden left early for the workshop, remarking on the area “anywhere you go, it takes forever to get there.”

Echoing several local motorists’ driving strategy, Mr. Golden and his wife Joan said they stay off U.S. 13 each afternoon beginning around 3:30 to 4 p.m. for at least a couple hours or often more.

“It’s a real problem,” Mr. Golden said. “They can add more lanes but there’s still going to be more congestion. There’s just more people here now.

“Dover has really drawn a lot of people who work here, and many people who live in Harrington work here and drive this way each day.”

From 2014 to 2016, according to DelDOT, there were 725 crashes in the proposed roadway widening area, above state averages. With more businesses coming to the area, more motorists are expected.

Alan Marteney, right, with Century Engineering talks with residents during a Delaware Department of Transportation public workshop at Caesar Rodney High School on Wednesday. Preliminary design plans to add third lanes both directions on U.S. 13 in a segment of Kent County were discussed. The project’s early cost projection to widen 3.4 miles from four lanes to six is $65 million.

“There’s always wrecks out there,” Joan Golden said. “People don’t know how to drive. Let’s face it.”

Lifelong Wyoming resident Brent Stokes said he avoids U.S. 13 whenever possible, especially between 2:30 to 6 p.m. He hesitates even when it can’t be avoided.

“It’s hard for me to get out of my driveway,” he said.

Once on the highway, Mr. Stokes typically experiences “the beeping, the nastiness, the (expletive) yous, the waving arms from the drivers. It’s gotten worse. It’s not gotten better.”

Dick Chappelle described the plans as “very preliminary, preliminary, preliminary talk” but was concerned how his Faith Community Church on U.S. 13 will be impacted.

‘Doing their best’

At least DelDOT was stepping out and meeting the public, Mr. Chappelle said.

“This is my first exposure to the concept and so far, so good,” he said. “They’re doing their best to exhibit maps and provide plenty of people to talk about it.”

Also under consideration are two Camden bypasses linking Del. 10 north and south to U.S. 13 and Old North Road and another proposed intersection.

“It was tougher to tell with the bypass projects (what the public thought),” Mr. Satterfield said. “There seemed to be general support for them but we’ll need to review the surveys and comment forms before we can a make a determination of the level of public support.”

The workshop added 20 completed surveys on laptops by attendees to the over 100 that had already been received.

“Our hope is we’ll get quite a few more and then use that information to help us determine our path forward,” Mr. Satterfield said.

Area residents look at renderings during a DelDOT public workshop at Caesar Rodney High School on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DelDOT’s widening project calls for the concept plan workshop this month, followed by:

• Preliminary construction plans – fall 2017.

• Semi-final construction plans – summer 2018.

• Begin right of way acquisition – spring 2019

• Final construction plans – spring 2020.

• Begin construction – spring 2021, depending on funding.

The ongoing study has goals to:

• Increase safety on the roadway for all modes of transportation.

• Increase capacity of the existing roadways.

• Enhance potential for economic growth within the study area.

• Enhance quality of life.

• Preserve historic, natural and cultural resources.

Anyone who wants to provide comments can write to DelDOT Community Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903 or email dotpr@state.de.us. Phone input is available at 760-2080 or 1-800-652-5600.

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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