Kent County's Levy Court commissioners criticised the state's processes for prioritizing road improvement projects at their Jan. 20 meeting.
A presentation by the Dover/Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization on its latest transportation plan segued into a discussion of how road projects should be prioritized at the Jan. 20 Levy Court meeting.
The MPO is a group that works with the Department of Transportation and local governments to prioritize road improvements. Projects are eligible for federal money only if they are listed in the plan.
One of the listed projects is a new connector running from behind Delaware State University to Delaware Technical & Community College and branching off to cross Route 13 at the Dover Mall. A service road running between the mall and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino and then following Route 1 could relieve some of the congestion along Route 13, said Juanita Wieczoreck, executive director of the Dover/Kent MPO.
“The more alternate routes you have, the more you pull people off the major routes,” she said.
During the presentation, the discussion turned to what factors are considered before a road is tagged for improvement. Wieczoreck said the MPO plan uses DelDOT road usage statistics based on the number of cars traveling along a roadway to determine whether a road is in need of improvement.
But both Commissioners Eric L. Buckson and Allan F. Angel had problems with that process of assessing road improvements because it does not take into consideration road safety.
In particular, both commissioners have expressed unease for several months over the intersection of Autumn Moon and Millchop lanes near Magnolia.
The intersection was the source of concern during the approval of a nearby development in August and since then has been the scene of at least two recent accidents — the latest taking the life of a 17-year-old girl.
Despite that, the road is not considered for improvements because it has not reached the level of service that would require it, according to DelDOT standards, Buckson said.
“My goal is to lessen [the reliance on] level of service in unincorporated areas,” he said.
Though not part of the Dover/Kent MPO purview, Wieczoreck said it is an issue other areas are considering.
“Many states are struggling with what the alternative should be,” she said. “How do you truly define what indicator should be used for roadways?”
County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange said he does not expect DelDOT to change the way it goes about road improvements but safety should be considered.
“Level of service will continue to have a role but it’s a quantitative not a qualitative analysis,” he said. “There are safety issues that level of service doesn’t address.”
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