Commentary: Drainage project coming along in Oak Orchard

A major drainage improvement project that Sen. Gerald Hocker and I have advocated for over the past six years has achieved another milestone for citizens residing in the Oak Orchard area of Millsboro.

I am pleased to report that the project to fix improper drainage — often the result of tidal and storm-related flooding — continues to move forward. According to DNREC, the department is actively working on preparing the environmental permits necessary for this project, partly the result of an additional $500,000 that Sen. Gerald Hocker and I this year secured for the project through the legislature’s Bond Bill, which funds capital improvements throughout the state.

Assuming that there are no issues with the permitting process, DNREC expects to start construction on the improvements in the winter.

In 2013, following Hurricane Sandy, Sen. Hocker and I secured our first installment of state funding for the project. The $100,000 state appropriation that year was for DNREC to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the problems related to improper drainage.

The purpose of the study was to review the history of drainage/flooding in the area, seek public input, identify solutions, prioritize them and develop conceptual designs with cost estimates for the five highest-priority locations. Much of these tasks have been completed over the course of the six-year time frame.

Ruth Briggs King

The five priority projects are for the following locations: Mercer Avenue, Captains Grant, River Road near Chief Road, River Road near Cerise Lane and Oak Meadows.

The $500,000 that was appropriated during this current funding cycle will be used for the design work of the improvements in the five priority areas.

According to DNREC, the process for obtaining permit applications and temporary landowner agreements for two of the designated locations has already begun. Actual construction of the improvements is projected to begin next year.

To discuss the drainage project, as well as other important road work in the Oak Orchard area, I am hosting an Oak Orchard Community Meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company between 6:30 and 8 p.m.

Your attendance is welcome to learn more about the timeline for the drainage construction and related activities throughout the Oak Orchard area. Hope to see you there!

State Rep., Ruth Briggs King, a Republican, represents the 37th District in the Delaware House of Representatives.

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