INFORMATION

Georgetown Area Working Group

Meeting Minutes

February 12, 2004
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
CHEER Community Center

Attendance
Indicated by √
Working Group Members Representing
Abbott, Jr., Howard Georgetown Resident
Abbott, Shane Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission
  Adams, Kenneth Melvin Joseph Contractors
Baird, David Town Manager
  Barlow, Sue Georgetown Planning Commission
Buehl, Eric Center for the Inland Bays
  Burris, Allison La Esperanza, Inc.
Campbell-Hansen, R. Carol Sussex County Board of Realtors
Cooper, Mitch Delaware State Police
  Davis, Mark Delaware Department of Agriculture
Diehl, David Bayhealth Medical Center
  Dryden, Lit Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce
  Dukes, Harry First State Poultry, Sussex County Airport Board
  Edwards, Bernice First State Community Action Agency
Gibbs, Matthew Georgetown Resident
Johnson, Harold Sussex County Farm Bureau
Johnson, Terry Delaware Technical & Community College
  Jones, Wesley Georgetown Historical Society
  Messick, Lynda Delaware National Bank
  Mitchell, John Indian River School District
Moore, Sr., Carlton Historic Georgetown Association
  Moore, Keith Perdue Farms, Inc.
Moore, Merrill Georgetown Area Resident
O'Neill, Karen

Southern Delaware Tourism

  Phillips, Guy Sussex County Farm Bureau
Simmons, Mike Project Development (South Region), DelDOT
Thomas, Joe Sussex County Emergency Management Services
  Townshend, Ann Marie Office of State Planning Coordination
Citizens Representing (if applicable) Address
Adam Huber Sussex County  
Robert Stickels Sussex County Council Georgetown
Mike Meoli   Georgetown, Millsboro, Selbyville
Fraley   Greenwood

The following is a summary of the meeting discussion:

  • The Working Group viewed the US 113 video "The Time to Act is Now" prior to the meeting.
  • Bob Kramer called the meeting to order and welcomed the Georgetown Area Working Group members to their first meeting. The Working Group members then introduced themselves and their affiliation.
  • Carolann Wicks thanked the members for agreeing to serve on the Working Group. She noted the value of public involvement in DelDOT projects and stressed the importance of the North/South study to DelDOT, Sussex County and the Georgetown area. She stated that the involvement and active participation of each of the towns along US 113, as well as local business and community leaders, farmers and other property owners, is essential to the success of this study. Ms. Wicks described DelDOT's overall approach as a 3-legged stool. The first leg is to solve all types of transportation problems, the second leg is to support opportunities for development and planned growth and the third leg is to protect our environmental resources, working with state and federal resource agencies and interest groups. Ms. Wicks noted that the US 113 North/South Study will carry out the recommendation in the Sussex County North/South Transportation Feasibility Study. In a cooperative effort between Sussex County and DelDOT, the feasibility study confirmed the feasibility of a north/south limited access highway through Sussex County and recommended that the US 113 corridor be studied for that purpose. She noted that US 113 will be the spine of the Sussex County transportation system for years to come.
  • Ms. Wicks noted that the purpose of the Working Group was to help DelDOT develop, analyze and review alternatives for establishing a limited access highway in this area of the US 113 corridor, using the existing roadway where feasible. Ms. Wicks further noted that the Working Group will serve an important advisory role to the Department as one component of an overall public involvement effort that will also include public workshops, a project web site and consultation and coordination with state and federal environmental resource agencies. Ms. Wicks referred to the extensive listening tour effort to date involving over 150 interviews with individuals and representatives of various organizations in the US 113 corridor. She stressed that this study is a joint effort by DelDOT and Sussex County government. Ms. Wicks noted that DelDOT will support this study financially and technically with the Project Team (DelDOT and Consultant Team). She pointed out the need for many skills and disciplines to successfully conduct a study such as this. Ms. Wicks then introduced Bob Stickels, Administrator for Sussex County.
  • Mr. Stickels introduced County Councilman Finley Jones and thanked him for attending.
  • Mr. Stickels referred to DelDOT as a partner in this study effort and emphasized the need for a limited access north/south highway in Sussex County. He noted the importance of all three north/south routes (US 13, US 113, and SR 1), which don't start in Sussex County. He indicated that congestion is so bad in the beach area - that he can get from Georgetown to Christiana Mall faster than he can get to the beach. Mr. Stickels referred to Maryland's plans to dualize MD 404 and US 113. He also stated that requests for DelDOT to increase transportation funding in Sussex County had been ignored, until the last three years, and commended Secretary Hayward for his significant support. Mr. Stickels noted the importance of coordination between efforts in different areas of the County. He discussed the importance of the County's partnership with DelDOT and indicated that this project will hopefully be a model for future land use/transportation efforts. He stated that the County is going to grow - like it or not.
  • Monroe Hite, III, DelDOT Project Manager for the US 113 North/South study, thanked the Working Group for accepting the challenge. Mr. Hite noted that DelDOT realizes the rapid pace of development in the US 113 Corridor, therefore, timing is critical. He stressed the importance of developing a plan that has broad-based support. He noted that the process that DelDOT must follow would be discussed later in the meeting and that the Department intends to move forward as quickly and efficiently as possible. He then introduced the Project Team members, also noting the role each will play during the study (see project notebook Tab 2 and Tab 3 - slide 4). Mr. Hite then quickly reviewed the contents of the project notebook and stated that the Project Team would provide material at each meeting for easy insertion into the notebook. Mr. Hite reviewed the dates established for Working Group meetings Nos. 2 and 3, i.e., March 18 and May 6, respectively. He noted that tonight's meeting will primarily involve the Project Team providing information to the Working Group, but future meetings will involve a more active exchange between the members of the Working Group and Project Team. Mr. Hite then reviewed the Project Team effort to date including the video preparation, the listening tour of over 150 interviews, 3 public workshops in October, data collection, etc. (see Tab 2). Mr. Hite advised that any Working Group member who wished to receive a copy of the video should contact him.
  • Mr. Kramer then briefly discussed the Working Group guidelines (Tab 1) and requested that members review the guidelines prior to discussion, potential modification, and approval at the next Working Group meeting. Mr. Kramer noted that these guidelines attempt to describe how the Working Group will function. The guidelines discuss "how we treat each other," how we make recommendations," how we communicate with the outside," etc. He noted that hopefully the Group will work by consensus, ("i.e., a sense of the Group") and will only formally vote when absolutely necessary. He stressed that all opinions are valid and that there will be no suppression of ideas. He stated that it is his job, as facilitator, to keep the Group moving ahead.
  • Mr. Kramer then discussed the results of the more than 150 interviews completed to date as part of the listening tour effort, and the October Public Workshops. The results are summarized on slides 8 - 10 (Tab 3) and in more detail under Tab 4.
  • Mr. Hite then reviewed the Project Team Purpose and Need and the Overall Goals and Objectives for the Study (Tab 3, slides 11 and 12). All alternatives subsequently developed will be evaluated with respect to Purpose and Need. Alternatives that do not meet Purpose and Need will not be retained for detailed study.
  • Mr. Hite then reviewed a draft Vision, Goals and Objectives for the study (Tab 3, slide13, and Tab 5). Mr. Hite expressed the Department's goal to convert US 113 to a limited access highway, utilizing as much of the existing US 113 general alignment as possible, while addressing existing and projected transportation needs and anticipated land use in the US 113 corridor. He noted that the Project Team developed this "first cut" of the Vision, Goals and Objectives, and stressed the importance of Working Group, Resource Agency, and Public comments on these items. The goals and objectives are extremely important, and although somewhat general in nature, will guide the development and evaluation of short, mid, and long-term alternatives. Mr. Hite requested that Working Group members review the "first-cut" which was developed from information from several appropriate documents (Tab 3, slide 13) and be ready to discuss these at the next meeting.
  • The Group then took a brief 10-minute break.
  • Mr. Kramer introduced David Baird, Georgetown Town Manager, noting that Mr. Baird would brief the Working Group on land use activities in the Georgetown Area and that the Working Group would be continually updated throughout the Study on this most important subject.
  • Mr. Baird noted that there is a lot more development activity underway than people actually see. Mr. Baird stated that people are moving inland - it's cheaper.
  • Mr. Baird noted that Georgetown has approved an $11 million improvement program for water, sewers and roads to facilitate new growth and development. Sewer expansion will accommodate 2500 edu's - 1800 to 2000 residential units. The housing will likely be followed by commercial development along US 113 and SR 9 (east towards Lewes).
  • Mr. Baird indicated that infill development plus some new development was occurring in Georgetown. The area west of US 113 is relatively quiet, but a number of properties are for sale, on a speculation basis. The Town Council has annexed several parcels over the past year or so, all in anticipation of residential development. In the southern part of town, 500 units are proposed on the north side of Arrow Safety Road between US 113 and South Bedford Street. Also, 175 duplex units are proposed on the west side of Sand Hill Road north and west of the CHEER center, and a shopping center is proposed across Sand Hill Road to the east of the center.
  • Mr. Baird noted the difficulty crossing US 113 at unsignalized intersections. Mr. Baird stated that DelTech continues to grow and noted the potential for development just to the west of DelTech.
  • Mr. Baird noted that commercial development along US 113 will surely follow the residential development.
  • Mr. Baird noted that Georgetown currently has 1600 residential units. Georgetown anticipates about 1800 to 2300 new residential units over the next ten years. There is considerable development already in the pipeline. Developers are making commitments to provide sewers and road improvements. It's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when". The impact on traffic is a question mark.
  • In response to a question, Mr. Baird noted that he does not anticipate residential development to the south and west of US 113. He sees mostly commercial along US 113.
  • Bill Hellmann re-introduced the Project Team Task Members for the three broad study components, i.e. Traffic, Safety and Engineering (Jeff Riegner), Community Involvement (Bob Kramer) and Environmental/Land Use (Joe Wutka).
  • Mr. Hellmann then briefly described that the data gathered and developed for the three study components and the Study Vision, Goals and Objectives would guide the development and evaluation of alternatives. All of this information would be provided to the Resource Agencies, the Working Groups and the General Public for their input (Tab 3, slide 14). Mr. Hellmann then very briefly reviewed the environmental coordination and consultation process for the study, referred to as the Mid-Atlantic Transportation and Environmental Streamlining Process (MATE) (Tab 3, slide 15), noting that Step 1 (Planning) was virtually complete, that Steps 2 and 3 were underway (Scoping and Purpose and Need), and that Step 4 would get underway shortly (Alternatives Development).
  • Mr. Riegner then reviewed the efforts to date in collecting traffic, accident and land use data and how that data would be used in developing and evaluating alternatives. Mr. Riegner explained that the Project Team will use two types of data: existing conditions and future conditions (those anticipated in 2025). Traffic data, such as counts and travel times, are easily gathered and analyzed for existing conditions. To learn more about trips within and through the study area, the team conducted a postcard survey in summer 2003. This helps to determine the relative amounts of local and through traffic, a well as the origins and destinations of those travelers. Accident data are also collected throughout the corridor to determine those areas where short-term safety improvements may be appropriate.
  • Studying anticipated future conditions is somewhat more complex and less exact. Forecast growth in land use is used to estimate corresponding traffic growth using a computer model. Through 2025, the numbers of both dwelling units and jobs in the US 113 corridor are expected to grow between 60 and 70 percent. The development information presented by Mr. Baird earlier in the meeting appears to support those estimates.
  • Mr. Kramer then reviewed the overall community involvement effort including ongoing interviews, the October Public Workshops and smaller meetings anticipated during subsequent phases of the study with those most directly affected. Mr. Kramer indicated that the Working Group will be advised of the results of all meetings held by the Project Team. Mr. Kramer pointed out that in addition to the advice and recommendations that the Working Group will provide, the Department will consider input from the federal and state resource agencies and the general public (largely from the Public Workshops and e-mails). Further, he indicated that given the magnitude of this project and the likely improvements that will be proposed, the Governor and General Assembly will be involved, particularly when it comes to funding decisions.
  • Mr. Wutka then reviewed the effort to date to collect environmental and cultural resources data and noted that ultimately alternatives will be developed in a manner that attempts first to avoid resources, and, if not possible, then to minimize impacts on resources, with appropriate mitigation.
  • Mr. Riegner than discussed how short and long-term improvements will be developed. Although the goal of the Working Group is to develop long-term solutions to transportation problems in the US 113 Corridor, opportunities for "quick fixes" may arise. Addressing short-term issues, meaning those that can be addressed in the one- to two-year timeframe, allows the road to function better until long-term solutions can be put in place. Examples of short-term improvements include signing, pavement markings, crossover closures or modifications, and left-turn lanes. These improvements are relatively low cost and have no right of way or environmental resource impacts.
  • Based on the recommendation of the feasibility study, the first type of long-term solution that will be considered is upgrading US 113 along its existing alignment. This can be accomplished by measures such as reducing or eliminating access points and signals, providing frontage roads for property access, and building grade separated crossings and interchanges. Next, upgrades to other roads in the corridor may be considered to facilitate local access. Finally, where necessary, limited-access bypasses would be provided in areas where upgrades to US 113 are either insufficient to meet project need or result in unacceptable property and/or resource impacts.
  • Mr. Wutka then discussed the coordination to date between the Project Team and the Environmental Resource Agencies, which has involved sharing data collected to date, along with two field reviews of the US 113 corridor.
  • Mike Simmons then reviewed the substantial DelDOT projects in various stages of development throughout Sussex County, referring to a list and map of the projects (Tab 3, slides 16 and 17). Mr. Simmons noted that these projects involve a DelDOT commitment of $350 million in transportation funds to Sussex County.
  • Mr. Simmons then reviewed prior DelDOT East/West Corridor Study efforts in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's, many of which considered major capacity improvements; noting, however, that none of these studies led to construction due to significant local opposition. Mr. Simmons stated that this opposition led DelDOT to change direction, i.e., recent efforts have focused on operational improvements, such as the addition of turning lanes, bypass lanes, and local road improvements that result in a better overall transportation network/highway grid. Mr. Simmons referred to the East-West Study currently being conducted by DelDOT's Planning Division in the Southeast and Northwest areas of Sussex County. The Study is scheduled to be completed in the summer and will establish priorities for those projects that will move from planning to project development (Transportation Solutions Division). Mr. Simmons referred to the significant commitment of DelDOT funds in the 6-year Capital Transportation Program (CTP) for east/west routes, e.g., SR 26 ($28M), SR 54 ($30M), SR 24 ($72M), among others. Finally, Mr. Simmons encouraged the members to review the projects in the CTP (Tab 3, slides 16 and 17) and to call him should they have questions. He acknowledged that Sussex County has significant needs, but noted that DelDOT has made a significant commitment ($350M) and effort to address those needs.
  • Mr. Hite then reviewed the Study Schedule (Tab 7), noting that the next two or three meetings would involve brainstorming and evaluating conceptual alternatives for the US 113 corridor. This effort would be followed by a series of public workshops requesting public comments on the project effort to date. Mr. Hite further noted that, following the Public Workshops, the Project Team would then begin a period of more detailed analysis of those retained alternatives determined appropriate for such analysis.
  • Mr. Hite then reminded the Working Group of the importance of their providing comments on the Draft Vision, Goals and Objectives.
  • Mr. Hite discussed the constraints map provided to all Working Group members, which indicates the environmental and cultural resources identified to date in the Georgetown study area. Mr. Hite reviewed the various resources noted on the map and requested that Working Group members review the map and provide comments on resources that may have been missed. Mr. Hite expressed the importance of attempting to identify resources early in the process, prior to developing and subsequently evaluating alternatives.
  • Mr. Hite referred to the March 18 and May 6 Working Group meetings. He indicated that the proposed schedule called for the Working Group to take the summer off, then reconvene in the fall for 2 or 3 meetings (alternatives retained for detailed analysis phase), then picking up again in early 2005 with a series of meetings to determine preferred/recommended alternatives. Mr. Hite anticipates the Study will take approximately 18 months to complete with about nine Working Group meetings, i.e., meeting about every two months (excluding the Christmas Holiday and summer periods).
  • Mr. Hite then offered two options for beginning to develop alternatives. The first option would begin with a "blank slate" using a map of the corridor as a base and have the Working Group members develop suggestions as to conceptual alternatives to upgrade US 113 in this study area to a limited access highway. Mr. Hite then presented a second option that would have the Project Team, based on what they have learned through the Listening Tour and Workshop, as well as their background research to date on various constraints, provide initial ideas and concepts to the Working Group. Using these ideas and concepts as a starting point, the Working Group would then offer comments and suggestions on these alternatives as well as propose additional alternatives.
  • Mr. Hite reminded members that should anyone want a copy of the Environmental Inventory or video to please let him know.
  • Mr. Kramer then reviewed again the two approaches to developing conceptual alternatives. Following a brief discussion by the members, the Working Group reached a consensus to pursue Option 2, i.e., have the Project Team develop initial ideas and improvements concepts in order to begin the discussion of alternatives.
  • Mr. Kramer noted that the next meeting would be held on March 18, 2004 beginning at 5:30 at the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown.
  • Mr. Kramer asked the Working Group to review 3 items, prior to the next meeting:
    • Working Group Guidelines
    • Vision, Goals and Objectives
    • Constraints Map
  • Mr. Kramer briefly described the draft agenda for the next meeting:
    • Working Group Guidelines
    • Vision, Goals and Objectives
    • Constraints Map
    • Begin initial discussion on the development of Conceptual Alternatives
  • Mr. Kramer reminded everyone to bring their notebooks to the next meeting.
  • Mr. Stickels expressed the importance of the Project Team following up with those Working Group Members not in attendance.
  • The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 PM.