Old Mill Road to be closed through May

Sussex County engineers have presented a timeline for ongoing sewer work along Old Mill Road, north of Millville. Last week, they warned local residents to expect a detour to Clubhouse Road at least until the end of May.

As county engineering’s Duane Beck explained, the work in progress will serve an area of considerable size – communities adjacent to Old Mill, Clubhouse and Railway roads. Wastewater from the entire area descends to the major pump station recently constructed on Old Mill Road (across the street from the Food Lion shopping center). At that point, to keep the water flowing, Beck said, they were working in an 18-foot-deep, 12-foot wide trench.

“People might thing progress is slow, but it’s because we’re so deep,” he said. “Everything goes into that line, to that pump station.”

According to Beck, the county was forced to work right in the middle of the road along that particular stretch to steer clear of a nearby water main coming out of the Bay Colony neighborhood — the two utilities must be installed at least 10 feet apart, he said.

Once the county crosses the intersection at Clubhouse Road, Beck said, they could start veering toward the shoulder again.

“We’re trying to get the pipe in as fast as we can,” he said. “Unfortunately, when you’re working with pipe that big (24-inch), it’s hard to keep a lane open.”

The engineering department has recognized that Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) restrictions typically prohibit such construction between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but said the county might seek DelDOT approval for a small extension into June.

Beck emphasized the importance of reaching Clubhouse Road by the end of May.

According to the engineering department, the developer of the big Bay Forest subdivision has provided much of the funding for the new pump station, and is funding a significant phase of this construction as well, which would ultimately reduce costs to existing residents.

Bay Forest comprises 808 lots on 385 acres, near Collins Creek Estates, on Whites Neck Road — nearly 400 single-family lots, and plans for 82 townhouses and a variety of smaller lots for “cottages” and “villas.”

Sussex County Council approved the project by a 4-1 vote, over Council Member George Cole’s objection, in March 2004. According to county engineering’s Brad Hawkes, that’s where the sewer is headed.

In fall 2006, contractors will return to the sections of Old Mill Road westward to Railway Road, and on to Whites Neck Road. Hawkes said they planned to arrive at Bay Colony by December 2006. By the time the project is complete, contractors will have installed more than a mile of 24-inch main along Old Mill Road.

Other developments in the area will be receiving some attention as soon as next month. The engineering department expected a second contractor to initiate work north of Clubhouse Road in April.

Two sections will be affected – from Old Mill Road to the entrance at Banks Harbor Retreat, and a small section adjacent to Roger’s Haven, between Bay View and Bird View roads. The second contractor will also be working within Roger’s Haven and Banks Harbor Retreat, the engineering department reported.

It remains to be seen whether traffic to the north end of Clubhouse Road will be lane restricted, or diverted to Railway Road through one of the neighboring communities.

Mains will eventually run northward to the new White Creek at Bethany community (87 single-family homes on 89 acres) on Clubhouse Road.