Route 113 changes show promise, but still carry concerns

Date Published: 
February 24, 2017

Feedback is coming in for the Millsboro-South Study, which proposes widening Route 113 and a new Route 24 connector road. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is inviting the public to comment on the plans, officially laid out in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).

The public may comment on the SDEIS by Tuesday, Feb. 28. People should email Community Relations at HYPERLINK “mailto:dotpr@state.de.us” dotpr@state.de.us or send mail to DelDOT Public Relations; P.O. Box 778; Dover, DE 19903.

On Feb. 7, citizens saw maps of the updated “Modified Yellow Alternative,” which was first introduced in 2015.

DelDOT made several changes from the 2015 proposal: the bypass meets Route 113 slightly northward of the last map; the bypass will now cross Route 30 as an overpass, rather than a traffic signal, with a small spur, or side-road, to connect the two; and Fox Run Road will remain, no longer replaced by another side-road.

“We see a lot of congestion in downtown Millsboro,” said Project Manager Bryan Behrens, since Route 24 is the only available route for beach traffic, commuters and Mountaire poultry trucks. “This is, hopefully, another kind of relief valve for that area, to alleviate that congestion.”

The bypass will connect from Route 113 (just north of Route 20 in Millsboro) and swing around to connect to Route 24. Moreover, it will be named the new Route 24.

The current Route 24, or John J. Williams Highway, will be realigned to meet Route 25 at a Hollyville Road traffic signal and four-way intersection.

Route 113 will be widened to three lanes each way, from the bypass to the Route 20 intersection at Dagsboro Road. The updated SDEIS also deleted all other proposed construction projects south of the Route 20/Route 113 intersection, south of Millsboro.

Although the highway’s recent upgrades will be torn out, construction probably won’t begin for another five to seven years, with about three years of construction anticipated.

The total cost is estimated to be around $120 million, most of which would likely be paid by the federal government. That price does not include property acquisitions.

“We want people to voice their opinion. That’s what this is all about,” said Behrens, who noted the 2015 workshop was much milder than the 2013 public hearings, where the public panned the proposed (and now scrapped) 16.5-mile bypass around Millsboro, Dagsboro and Frankford.

“It’s something that’s been studied for quite some time. We feel we’ve come back with everything that was asked of us at the 2013 hearing. … I expect support because it was supported in 2015.”

But some people aren’t satisfied because some things haven’t changed.

For instance, there are still two bridge crossings over Millsboro Pond. That’s allowed, but it’s so near the Doe Bridge Nature Preserve, which is off-limits, that some people complain that the same flora and fauna will be negatively impacted.

Also, some people believe the Route 24 bottlenecks will just get moved farther down the road, but not disappear, since the project doesn’t include improvements to the rest of Route 24. (However, other projects are already planned for 2017, to improve Route 24 safety and speed.)

Bob Ricker, owner of Baker’s True Value Hardware in Millsboro, is also a firefighter who doesn’t want the side streets to be blocked from Route 113.

“We had an accident today. … The only way we got there was we know every stinkin’ little side street in Millsboro, because you sure can’t come out and go down 24,” Ricker said. “By making some of the smaller streets that jump out on 113 a cul-de-sac, inaccessible to all, it really limits our ability to get to places. When there’s an accident and traffic backs up, the only way to access that is smaller back streets.”

Find a copy

The 107-page SDEIS and maps can be downloaded online at www.deldot.gov/information/projects/us113. The “Millsboro-South Area Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement” is halfway down the webpage.

People may request a free CD of the SDEIS by calling DelDOT Public Relations at (302) 760-2080.

The SDEIS can be viewed at the following locations:

• Millsboro Public Library, Millsboro Town Hall, Dagsboro Town Hall, Frankford Public Library, Frankford Town Hall, Selbyville Public Library and Selbyville Town Hall.

• DelDOT South District Admin. Building; 23697 Dupont Blvd.; Georgetown, DE 19947

• DelDOT; 800 Bay Rd.; Dover, DE 19903

• FHWA; Del. Division; 1201 College Park Dr., Ste. 102; Dover, DE 19904.

After February, public and regulatory comments will be evaluated to complete the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), either before or simultaneously with a Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD will officially identify the designated best course of action.