More than 50 Kent County residents attended an open house at the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Administration Building in Dover on Tuesday to examine and comment on 19 proposed transportation projects planned in the county between 2015 and 2021.
Those country projects are among 98 statewide that have been included in a six-year plan that must be finalized by March 1, 2015, so the General Assembly can begin prioritizing funding in next year’s budget.
But while Tuesday’s meeting was billed as a public hearing, attendees found they could only provide official comments by completing a comment form or providing information to a court reporter.
That did not please Kent County Levy Court President Brooks Banta and some others, who came specifically to discuss the proposed Del. Route 1 overpass at Del. Route 12, south of Frederica, which they consider to be an integral part the Kent County Regional Sports Complex, a $23 million project that would include 12 sports fields and a 1,500-seat grandstand.
The overpass project was initially slated to begin this year, but was pushed back until at least 2016 after DelDOT began using new software to prioritize construction projects.
The overpass is now listed as 89th out of the 98 projects DelDOT has planned statewide.
Banta and others have said that change could mean the end of the sports complex.
Banta Tuesday said he’s brought that concern to Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt and other DelDOT officials, but to no avail.
“No one has listened,” he said. “I’m president of Kent County Levy Court, representing 170,000 people, and no one seems to listen.”
Frederica Mayor William “Chick” Glanden also attended Tuesday’s hearing to support the interchange.
“I’m expecting it will help my town to grow,” he said, adding that a convenience store chain has expressed interest in building in town, which also might depend on when the interchange becomes a reality. “When this happens, everything else will grow. It will be a real revitalization.”
Milford Mayor Brian Shupe also was on hand to look at plans for a graded intersection at Route 1 and Northeast Front Street. That project, which also would include a Route 1 overpass, is ranked 78th on DelDOT’s priority list.
Northeast Front Street is a major access point to the city and the current configuration possess a danger to motorists trying to cross Route 1, Shupe said.
“I’m here to see what kind of action is being taken and what will be taken so I can report back to our residents,” Shupe said.
“I feel it should be higher on DelDOT’s priority list.”
The Kent County meetings were followed by similar gatherings in New Castle County on Sept. 24 and Sussex County on Sept. 25, with public comments being accepted for 10 days after each hearing.
Comments may be mailed to DelDOT Public Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903. Additional information may be obtained by calling 760-2080.