Earlier this month, the Millsboro Town Council discussed traffic congestion and the possibility of an ordinance to restrict truck traffic through the downtown area.
“Many of us feel we have a traffic issue through this town,” said Councilman Greg Hastings. “Reflect, for a moment, what the traffic was like 10 years ago. There was no Plantation Lakes, Radish Farms, Peninsula Crossing — 20 years ago, our post office was where our police station currently is and had half the number of routes it has today.”
Hastings said the problem is a result of the Route 24 bottleneck funneling traffic from the eastside of town to the west, and vice-versa.
“We have a very unique geographical situation here in Millsboro that creates this bottleneck, which is two bodies of water,” he said, adding that, although the bodies of water offer beauty and recreational options, they have also become restrictive.
Hastings said the Town cannot move bodies of water but that he believes the council can control traffic. He added that the traffic issues affect the town, businesses, growth, cleanliness and public safety.
Hastings presented council with the “closest, nearest possible route” to detour traffic — taking Route 30 at the intersection of Route 24, turning onto Morris Mill Road to Zoar Road.
“Then you have two alternatives: cut across, go by Bethesda Church [Stockley Road], or go up to the racetrack.”
Residents need to learn back roads, said Hastings, and the route presented is a viable option.
“It’s quite a distance… But, folks, I don’t see any alternative south of us.”
Millsboro Police Chief John Murphy also spoke as to how the traffic can and has affected his department.
“When the officers are on patrol, they may have to drive in the opposite direction of the incident that they’re going to, because they know they can pick their way down side streets to avoid congested areas,” he explained.
Murphy said he believes there will be accidents due to the town’s traffic congestion, and drivers are dangerously passing on the shoulder.
“We have issued literally thousands of tickets for passing on the shoulder, and it has no effect. People still do it every day. If you’re being that aggressive and it has no effect — there’s a problem here, when people are becoming that frustrated.”
He added that the safety of the department’s officers is also a concern, when they have to enter into a congested environment to do their daily work.
“We’ve learned to deal with it. We’ve learned to work around it,” he said. “It’s not optimum. It’s not how we’d like to do business.”
Ron O’Neal, president of the Millsboro Fire Company, said that it’s difficult for the fire company’s apparatus drivers to maneuver through the town’s traffic, too.
“It is a bad, bad situation,” he said. “I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already.”
O’Neal said the company cannot really use back roads and only has two viable access points to get to Route 113.
Councilman Jim Petruzella said the traffic congestion concerns him, as well, as a resident of Plantation Lakes, located on the west side of Route 113.
“That scares me all the time,” he said. “By the time it takes them to get there — and it’s not their fault — a person could die, a house could be burning.”
Hastings said that the Town should take action, instead of waiting for the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to work on a solution.
“We all know DelDOT doesn’t do anything until it’s reactive,” he said. “What we’re talking about here tonight — we, I feel, this council, this Town, needs to be proactive to the growth of this town. And then DelDOT will be reactive to our decision.”
The restriction of truck traffic through Millsboro will be considered at the Nov. 4 town council meeting, at 7 p.m.