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Dover Post
  • Proposed widening of U.S. Route 13 included in DelDOT’s long-range plans

  • The Delaware Department of Transportation released a draft list of proposed projects, called the Capital Transportation Program, for fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2020 earlier this year. That list included a proposal to add an additional traffic lane to each side of U.S Route 13, from the Puncheon Run Connector, which connects U.S. Route 13 and Bay Road, to Walnut Shade Road in Woodside.
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  • The Delaware Department of Transportation released a draft list of proposed projects, called the Capital Transportation Program, for fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2020 earlier this year. That list included a proposal to add an additional traffic lane to each side of U.S Route 13, from the Puncheon Run Connector, which connects U.S. Route 13 and Bay Road, to Walnut Shade Road in Woodside.
    At this juncture, the Capital Transportation Program is merely a wish list of sorts for the Department. In order for it to become official it would first have to be endorsed by the Council on Transportation. It would then move on to be voted on by the legislature in June.
    If the legislature approves the program, DelDOT would have the authorization to work on widening U.S. Route 13 and any of the other projects on the list, according to Drew Boyce, DelDOT’s director of planning.
    The section of U.S. Route 13 between the Puncheon Run Connector and Walnut Shade Road was identified repeatedly as having a number of high crash sites through DelDOT’s Hazard Elimination Program. The program generally associated the safety issues with congestion along that section of road. DelDOT has previously tried to address the problem, Boyce said.
    “We tried some remediation with red light running cameras at Webbs Lane and that helped reduce incidents,” Boyce said. “But as congestion increases we’re still seeing congestion related type crashes, which are usually rear enders, as a result of too many folks trying to utilize the route.”
    Widening the road would alleviate that congestion by creating the ability to move more cars through an intersection during a green light. Boyce cited Del. Route 10 as an example.
    “At Route 10 there are a lot of vehicles that have to cross [Route] 13, so the cars on [Route] 13 get less green time,” Boyce said. “You can see the cars back up to Rodney Village. By adding another lane when the light is green you can get more vehicles through using three lanes than you can with two. You can put more cars though a signal with less delays and cut down on crashes.”
    If the project is authorized the design and project development process would begin in Fiscal Year 2015. The project would likely warrant an environmental assessment, as required by the National Environmental Protection Act, which would look at the impact of the widening on the environment in areas such as air quality and the effects of noise. They will also have to look at the social impacts and ensure that drivers still have access to the businesses along the busy corridor, Boyce said.
     “It’s a pretty regulated process in which we have to reach out to the public multiple times for comment,” Boyce said. “We have to engage the public in the process…We have to measure the noise, measure wetland boundaries, we have to do a survey. The process takes several years to get through.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Right of way acquisition would come in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and construction is slated to begin in FY 2018, according to draft Capital Transportation Program documents.
    When U.S. Route 13 was originally built quite a bit of right of way was left for future development, so there shouldn’t be too much acquisition required. At most DelDOT will most likely only need to acquire small strips of land, but it is still too early to say for sure, Boyce said.
    Boyce said that the project could cost $66 million, but that it was too early to accurately project. DelDOT intends to seek federal funding for the project, with the help of the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
    The proposed widening of U.S. Route 13 is in the process of being incorporated into the MPO’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which outlines proposed projects through 2035, as well as their four year plan. In order for DelDOT to receive federal funding for the widening of U.S. Route 13, the MPO has to be on board with the project and it has to be included in the MPO’s documents, Boyce said. Rich Vetter, executive director of the MPO, said he is on board.
    “I think something has to be done to address the increased inefficiencies along Route 13,” Vetter said. “Crashes have increased through the years and a lot of commercial development has taken place, adding entrances, conflict points and new signals. Something has to be done to address safety. The traffic volume is at the point where it’s exceeding capacity.”

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