The next step: DelDOT workshop focuses on future growth south of Dover

DOVER — As Kent County considers growth plans for South Frederica and Little Heaven, the state Department of Transportation is assessing the most recent traffic improvements to consider what additional changes may be needed.

Data was collected on Saturdays in August and peak hours in the mornings and evenings in September to study beach traffic and school/commuter traffic in both South Frederica and Little Heaven. Traffic conditions were found to meet the criteria for good operation, according to Sonia Marichic-Goudy, a principal engineer for Century Engineering who explained results at a workshop Wednesday.

“We just had new interchanges built, so I guess that’s good. DelDOT did their job. Everything’s flowing very well,” she said. “So we expected that answer, but it’s nice to analyze it and see it for sure.”

The roadwork — an $18 million grade-separated intersection between Del. 1 and Del. 12 (Frederica Road) completed in July 2018 after two years of work — was designed to provide easier access to and from the DE Sports Complex while improving traffic flow and safety in the area.

DelDOT’s workshop was designed to outline existing conditions of the roads in those areas south of Dover where future development might take place and gather public input.

Following the workshop, data will be analyzed.

“We’re going to work with the Smart Growth initiatives and develop a transportation network that meets the new demand that could potentially come out of the land use changes,” Ms. Marichic-Goudy continued.

She said that once the data was analyzed, another workshop would be held that would show “the new trip generations, the amount of traffic generated and some alternatives for transportation networks to answer those demands” of more drivers in that area.

After more public workshops, it is anticipated by DelDOT and Century that the results from this study would be published in summer 2020.
Kent County Levy Court began discussions last year with public workshops and a working group to draft a vision of growth for that stretch of land.

Because of increased access to infrastructure, development in the South Frederica and Little Heaven area is inevitable, Kent County staff, politicians and business advocates have said. Those areas were set aside for “master planning,” to better define a vision for them.

“The transportation sector is very much influenced by land use. People don’t drive to drive, they drive to get somewhere,” explained Nate Attard, a DelDOT project manager. “So if we can sort of pair the two planning efforts together, then we end up with a better result.”

Kent County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange reminded residents at the workshop that this is a long-range view of what could occur at those locations.

“The county doesn’t necessarily control the timing of that, but we can control the types of uses and how the uses get put together on the land if and when the area is developed,” he said. “But I would just emphasize the timing probably of what you’re seeing, particularly in the Little Heaven area, is a 30-year view. It’s nothing that’s going to happen overnight.”

In South Frederica, a potential master plan outlines development as: sports complex, spray/fields, wastewater treatment, recreation commercial, professional campus, support services/commercial.

In Little Heaven, potential plans include neighborhood commercial, light industrial, corporate campus, mixed use, professional campus, future service/commercial retail, future agri-business.

In September, Kent County Economic Partnership chairman Gregory Moore noted that the plan allows for “good, viable jobs” to come to the county, rather than just residential development. But, he said, the control remains in the hands of the landowners.

“The county is not going to be buying the property, they won’t be forcing rezoning — none of that. It’ll be the landowners that decide whether or not their properties are, in fact, rezoned,” he said then. “If they want to participate, you may see change. If they want to continue to farm, you will see no change. It will be up to them.”

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