Route 113 overpasses coming to central Sussex County

Date Published: 
Nov. 10, 2017

Route 113 is getting a facelift unlike the immediate area has ever seen. To improve safety and congestion, Delaware Department of Transportation will replace stoplights with overpasses and ramps.

“We are basically converting the existing 113 over to a more controlled-access highway,” said Rob McCleary, a chief engineer. “There will be bridges, overpasses, ramps, that kind of thing,” with 14 grade-separated intersections in 17 project locations, from northern Millsboro to Ellendale. The project would also reportedly ease beach-bound traffic with a 2.75-mile North Millsboro bypass connecting Route 113, north of town, to Route 24, east of town.

“This is probably the next biggest thing, other than [building a new Route] 301, that we’re about to launch,” DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan said of the Route 113 North/South project.

This will increase traffic capacity, which can improve quality of life and economic development for the region, said Gov. John Carney.

“We’d be removing some signals, so you still accommodate all the movements people can still make … but they won’t be doing it at a signal, they’d be doing it at an overpass with ramps,” said Project Manager Bryan Behrens. “It’s safer because you kind have your own way with the ramp. You just have a direct connection, and you’re not waiting for a signal.”

Similar construction projects have already begun along Route 1, in northern Sussex and Kent counties.

“There is going to be some short-term pain for long-term gain … this is a long-term preservation plan,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan.

Construction projects will be scheduled over the next 20 years, which will impact traffic at every step. Some people will also lose property to this project. They will be compensated.

After considering hundreds of plans, DelDOT found public consensus with these on-alignment projects.

State Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. (R-20) remembered the unpopularity of the “Blue Route,” a pricey 16.5-mile bypass that DelDOT originally favored around Millsboro, Dagsboro and Frankford. He commended DelDOT for listening to the public.

After around 15 years of brainstorming and heading back to the drawing board, DelDOT staff are excited to officially design and build the project. They’re finally allowed to do this with public support and completed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental reports.

“It’s an exciting time. We’re just extremely motived and exited to deliver this to the people of Sussex County,” Behrens said.

“It occurs to me … if you live long enough, you get to see some of these projects actually get done,” Carney joked.

“Now that we have this on paper, out towns can start making plans around that,” said State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-19), “rather than maybe approving plans that may be taken out in five years.”

“There will be some people who we feel will be hurt … I would urge everyone to understand that at some point we’re going to hit a true crisis. We have to plan for the long range, and I think this does that job,” said State Rep. Rich Collins (R-41), who also encouraged legislators to keep watch over project, ensure residents’ needs take precedence over tourists’.

“It’s not [all tourists]. It’s commercial. It’s our industry, and it’s our people that need to move around,” said State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-37). “I hope I’m able to drive it when it’s all complete in 20 years. If not, I’ll have an automatous vehicle to help me go,” she joked. “We’re not building for today, we’re building for the future, and we were already behind, so this is great, I think.”

The federal government will likely contribute 80 percent of the $544 million estimate includes design, construction and right-of-way acquisition.

Public workshops will begin in early 2018. Construction may begin around 2022. Already in design are the intersections at Route 16 in Ellendale; Route 18/404 near Delaware Technical Community College; and Route 9 near Georgetown’s KFC and Taco Bell.

In the overall 113 North/South Study, Sussex Countians rejected significant projects in Milford and south of Millsboro, so DelDOT will consider those areas in the future.

The press conference was part of Carney’s Nov. 7 tour of statewide infrastructure projects, valuing over $1 billion in investment, including Lewes Transit Center, the South Frederica interchange project and Route 301 construction.

Carney thanked the Federal Highway Administration and DelDOT staff for their work and support up to this point.

Project details will be posted online at www.deldot.gov/information/projects/us113.