Cape Gazette
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Barefootin'

Midweek morning traffic on Route 9 pushing the limits

By Dennis Forney | Nov 01, 2013
Photo by: Dennis Forney Delaware's Economic Development Director Alan Levin at Del Tech's Today and Tomorrow Conference. He said Harim's proposal to convert Millsboro's former Vlasic pickle plant to a poultry processing facility must be approved.  "We've had to make a decision in Dover as to whether Delaware is going to be a place for manufacturing, where things are made and jobs are created, or a waiting room for heaven like Florida."  Obviously Levin has opted to let Florida keep the waiting room.

Driving west on Route 9 between Five Points and Georgetown isn’t part of my morning routine. But this week, a conference at Del Tech drew me that way. I know lots of people who work in Georgetown, and they have told me how heavily traveled the road is becoming. Still, at 7:30 a.m., I was startled to find an almost continuous line of traffic flowing eastward from well west of Harbeson. In addition, feeder roads to Route 9 were backed up eight and 10 cars deep on both sides of the highway. Those waiting to turn left, having to cross both lanes, were having a heckuva time getting out.

It’s the frustration and impatience in such situations that push rash judgment, resulting in crashes.

No question 7:30 a.m. is a busy time for travel. School buses. People heading to work. Trucks making the day’s first deliveries. Steady growth in population through the years. It all adds up to a roadway not far away from gridlock. Fritz Schranck, deputy attorney general for Delaware assigned to DelDOT, said the state passed legislation in 1996 which created the Corridor Capacity Preservation Program. Although the program has been used primarily for north-south routes in Delaware like Route 1 and Route 13, the program could be applied to major east-west routes like Route 9. Schranck said the program allows DelDOT to get involved in certain land-use decisions such as the amount of density in proposed developments along designated corridors, requirements for service roads rather than direct entrances, and requirements for developers to pay for and build infrastructure as significant as overpasses if that’s what it takes to preserve capacity on roads deemed major for regional through travel. Route 9 – an extension of the Route 50/404 corridor crossing Delmarva from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – arguably falls into the category of a major east-west route for which corridor capacity preservation should be considered.

Speaking of traffic, Delaware’s head of economic development, Alan Levin, told the audience at Del Tech’s 20th Today and Tomorrow Conference Wednesday that traffic on Route 1 was one of the negatives cited by this summer’s visitors to Delaware’s beaches. “We did exit interviews about their experience here and, no surprise, they didn’t like the traffic on Route 1. I hate it. It’s awful, and it’s time we did something about it.”

Levin said he planned to meet with DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt this week to discuss the matter.

And about the population growth in Sussex? Ed Simon of Delaware’s Department of Labor said during the 20 years Del Tech has been hosting its Today and Tomorrow Conference, the county’s population has grown by 67 percent, from 126,300 in 1993 to 210,800 today.

Is it any wonder that our roads feel more congested than they did 20 years ago?

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