DelDOT reveals ‘preferred plan’ for Kenton Road improvements

DOVER — Officials for the Delaware Department of Transportation say improvements are on the way that will lessen the daily congestion that impacts Kenton Road in west Dover from Del. 8 to Chestnut Grove Road.

Jim Satterfield, the DelDOT Project Development Program Manager, said the upcoming changes to the 1.2-mile stretch of Kenton Road will also make the area safer for motorists, as well as for bicyclists and pedestrians.

DelDOT invited the public to take a look at its “Preferred Plan” in the Dover High School cafeteria on Monday night.

“About a year ago we came up with a couple of different alternatives and took a bunch of comments from people and the majority of the people we met with a year ago wanted to go with what we’ve got out here,” Mr. Satterfield said.

Among the biggest changes will be two lanes going southbound on Kenton Road from College Road to Del. 8 as opposed to the current single lane. There will also be two turn lanes going left at both Walker and College roads onto Kenton Road, funneling into the expanded roadway.

DelDOT is also planning on installing a traffic light at the Greentree Shopping Center and Greenway Lane intersection on Kenton Road and straightening out the intersection of Kenton Road with Chestnut Grove Road, which now is somewhat skewed and makes it difficult for motorists to see oncoming southbound traffic.

“Everybody that we’ve talked to has seemed real happy about it,” Mr. Satterfield said, about the traffic light at the exit to the Greentree Shopping Center on Kenton Road. “It’s a tough spot. There are a lot of accidents there and just getting in and out of Greentree and the development across the street … that’s a really busy spot.

“We’re also bringing out Chestnut Grove Road at an angle and we’ll have left-turn lanes. We’re still investigating what we’re going to do (at the intersection) signal-wise. We will put in all the hardware underground for future use if we decide that a signal is needed.”

Mr. Satterfield said the Kenton Road Project is currently funded for construction, estimated to cost around $17 million, in Fiscal Year 2023. DelDOT is hoping to begin making the improvements in 2022.

Some happy, others not

William Garfinkel was among those who attended DelDOT’s presentation at Dover High School on Monday night and left with a positive impression overall, though he had a couple of concerns.

“I think all-in-all, I like the plans,” Mr. Garfinkel said. “I think it’s a pretty nice comprehensive plan, but there are some weaknesses that I see.

“My biggest concern is they’re doing about a third of College Road anyway, why not go all the way to McKee (Road) while they have all of their equipment and men there? The parts are there. Finish the job.”

Thomas Dix, another nearby resident who attended the meeting, wasn’t nearly as optimistic about the Kenton Road blueprint.

“From (Del. 8) to (College Road), it’s going to turn into a four-lane parking lot,” he said. “There’s nothing on the 20-year plan, except for a bike lane that’s supposed to go (down Del. 8) and then mysteriously jumps over to the (south) side of the road (at the Kenton Road intersection) and continues on to (Dover) high school.

“We’re going to build this four-lane highway and rush them to this exit (Del. 8) … this is going to clog up. Then, where do you think they’re going to go? To my street, Independence Boulevard (in Bicentennial Village). It’s a plan that’s going to turn that area of Kenton Road into a parking lot.”

More than just convenience

Mr. Satterfield said the original plan called to make Kenton Road more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly.

According to Mr. Satterfield, the plan initially envisioned only widening shoulders along part of the road and the installation of new sidewalks.

However, with DelDOT studies showing that south Kenton Road averaged 11,312 vehicles per day in 2015, he said he knew there were even more changes that were needed. It is projected the same area will average 16,988 vehicles per day in 2040.

“We thought, ‘We’ve got to be looking at additional turn lanes and additional capacity now while we were looking at the bike path improvements,’” said Mr. Satterfield.

Those bicycle and pedestrian improvements will still be taking place.

There will be a 10-foot shared-use path on the east side of Kenton Road from Del. 8 to the YMCA pool complex.

There will also be five-foot shoulders, including bicycle lanes, as well as sidewalks along the road.

Acquiring land takes a while

Mr. Satterfield said he hasn’t heard an overwhelming amount of opposition by homeowners who might lose some of their land to DelDOT’s right-of-way due to the project on College, Walker and Kenton roads.

“We’re in our preliminary plans, which mean 30 to 40 percent (of the project),” Mr. Satterfield said. “So, within the next year, we’ll be going with what we call final right-of-way plans.

“What we’ll use our final right-of-way plans for is for our real-estate folks to go out and talk to all of the affected property owners to acquire all of the records of right-of-way that we need.”

That process promises to take up the majority of the time for the project.

“With all of the property owners we have out here, that will be about a two-year process to get all of that right-of-way acquired because they have to go through appraisals and there are a number of steps involved,” said Mr. Satterfield.

He said for motorists to just be patient. That safer, and easier, commutes through the southern end of Kenton Road are on the way.

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