West Dover Connector construction at midpoint

 

A construction crew works on the Puncheon Run bridge, part of the 3.2-mile connector scheduled to open by July or August next year. The new roadway is expected to ease traffic congestion and improve access. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

A construction crew works on the Puncheon Run bridge, part of the 3.2-mile connector scheduled to open by July or August next year. The new roadway is expected to ease traffic congestion and improve access. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — More than 10 years after initial plans began, construction on the West Dover Connector started in February 2015.

Now, the project is more than half finished with construction scheduled to be completed next summer.

When it’s finished, motorists will have easy access from south Dover to west Dover and vice versa, allowing people coming from the Camden area to have a more direct route, officials said.

An aerial view on Wednesday shows a good swath of the Puncheon Run bridge construction that’s part of the West Dover Connector. (Special to Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

An aerial view on Wednesday shows a good swath of the Puncheon Run bridge construction that’s part of the West Dover Connector. (Special to Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

The drive will be quicker and, the Department of Transportation hopes, less congested.

Meanwhile, many residents in the Rodney Village area will see less traffic.

On Wednesday reporters received a tour from DelDOT, driving through a portion of the connector and viewing construction of a bridge over Puncheon Run.

Called a “win-win” by DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan at the groundbreaking last year, the connector stretches from the Eden Hill Commercial Center to the south end of Rodney Village, next to Brecknock Park, with no lights or stop signs that would delay travel on it.

Traffic lights at both ends of the connector will help control flow, while another one at the “spur” off New Burton Road will help cars entering and exiting there, officials said.

The Route 13 intersection will receive a signal upgrade and more turn lanes, while the North Street-Saulsbury Road intersection at Eden Hill is undergoing similar changes.

The road, which will not be formally named the West Dover Connector, spans 3.2 miles. It carries a total cost to taxpayers of about $32 million, with the federal government paying for 80 percent.

DelDOT Area Engineer Mark Buckalew at Puncheon Run bridge construction site on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DelDOT Area Engineer Mark Buckalew at Puncheon Run bridge construction site on Wednesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The connector, DelDOT said, is environmentally friendly: It includes a bridge that stretches across Puncheon Run with wetlands around it to avoid disturbing the natural landscape. Once the bridge is finished, the stones placed under it for the duration of the project will be cleared away and foliage will be planted.

The goal is for the habitat to look as it did before the work started.

Another bridge crosses over New Burton Road by the Kent County Recreation Center.

The connector includes space for bicycles and pedestrians. The shared-use path will run alongside the entire roadway, allowing joggers and bikers to safely travel between Brecknock and Schutte parks, officials said.

“Multimodal transportation is part of our goal,” DelDOT area engineer Mark Buckalew said.

Much of the area where the roadway is being built was previously farmland although DelDOT also purchased some homes in Rodney Village and knocked them down to clear space.

As it crosses New Burton Road, the connector makes a loop to avoid infringing on a historic barn.

The impact on current traffic has been minimal, according to DelDOT.

The road is set to open in July or August 2017.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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