Nearly two years have passed since the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) abandoned the unpopular plan for a Route 113 bypass for Millsboro south to Selbyville. Instead, they now plan to widen the existing highway and build a new road connecting Route 113 to Route 24.
Bolstered by a more positive public response to the new concept, DelDOT has now officially named the “Modified Yellow Alternative” as its Recommended Preferred Alternative.
They’ve also written a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) to analyze the project’s impact on surrounding homes, wildlife, historical properties and areas where accidents are more common.
The public may comment on the SDEIS at a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Millsboro Civic Center at 322 Wilson Highway. (The weather date is Thursday, Feb. 9.)
Written public comments are due by Tuesday, Feb. 28. People should mail their comments to DelDOT Public Relations; P.O. Box 778; Dover, DE 19903 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Feb. 7, people can review the maps and display boards with project information; ask questions and interact with DelDOT staff; and provide testimony to a stenographer. From 6 to 8 p.m., people can also provide public testimony before officials (in order of sign up).
The location is accessible to those with disabilities. Anyone having special needs or requiring special aid, such as an interpreter for the hearing impaired, should contact DelDOT by phone or mail one week in advance.
For more assistance, contact DelDOT Public Relations at (302) 760-2080 or email@example.com.
Under the new Recommended Preferred Alternative, DelDOT has proposed widening about 2.8 miles of U.S. Route 113 in Millsboro from four to six lanes, running from Betts Pond to the Route 20/113 intersection. According to the plan, the existing grass median would provide most of the land for the widening project. Route 113 would keep its four traffic signals but lose the six unsignalized crossovers.
The plan also includes a bypass for the Route 24/113 intersection, and based on public feedback in 2015, DelDOT has adjusted the proposed Route 24 connector to reduce impacts to nearby properties.
“The new two-lane SR 24 Connector will tie into a realigned segment of SR 20 (Hardscrabble Road) west of U.S. 113 and cross U.S. 113 about 300 feet north of the existing intersection with SR 20 at a new grade separated intersection.”
It would cross narrower parts of Betts Pond, then “tie into existing SR 24 about 2.3 miles east of U.S. 113, which is about one mile east of the existing SR 24 crossing near Millsboro Pond.”
The updated SDEIS also deletes all of the originally proposed project elements south of the Route 20/Route 113 intersection, south of Millsboro.
Impact statements are required for any proposed road project using federal funds. DelDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) use input from public comment, state and federal agencies, engineering studies and environmental analyses.
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 best course of action.
Changes to the map, to the landscape
The SDEIS has included changes to the Millsboro-South area since the original DEIS was published in 2013, favoring a 16.5-mile bypass. But the public’s overwhelming opposition pushed DelDOT to reconsider that proposal, in favor of the current, less-invasive plans.
Compared to the originally recommended Blue Route, the Modified Yellow Alternative is estimated to cost $116 million maximum, versus $839 million. It would cause a fraction of the original impact to wetlands, streams, prime farmland and forest. Most importantly, for some people, the relocations required have decreased substantially — for residential properties (52 to 0), business properties (10 to 2) and agricultural properties (9 to 2).
This and more information is found in the 107-page SDEIS.
The project’s new stated purpose is to “preserve mobility for local residents and businesses while providing highway improvements that reduce congestion, decrease frequency and severity of accidents and accommodate anticipated growth in local, seasonal and through traffic.”
“The original purpose of the U.S. 113 North/South Study was to establish a continuous, limited- access facility through Sussex County from the Maryland/Delaware state line to SR 1 near the Dover Air Force Base, thereby completing a limited-access corridor throughout the State of Delaware,” the SDEIS states.
In the Millsboro-South area, DelDOT once preferred the “Blue Route,” which resembled the freeways found in Kent and New Castle counties that whisk traffic swiftly around smaller towns. The new highway would have followed a similar route as the new connector, starting north of Millsboro, but wrapping around Millsboro, as well as Dagsboro and Frankford, before reconnecting to the existing Route 113 in Selbyville. However, the public argued against a new highway’s impact on the environment, small-town businesses, homes and farms.
Find a copy
The SDEIS 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.