Follow-up from March 23rd, 2009 Public Workshop
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) conducted a public workshop for the US 301 Project Development initiative on March 23, 2009, between the hours of 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. at the Middletown Volunteer Fire Company. The primary purpose of the public workshop was to comply with the 2008 General Assembly Bond Bill Epilogue Language to obtain public input regarding the Spur Road and Alternatives for the Spur Road and updated traffic data. The Department took advantage of the opportunity provided by the workshop to present the results of a number of Spur Road studies, improvement options for the sharp curve on SR896 south of Summit Bridge and a number of potential refinements to the new US 301 mainline.
Over 450 people attended the workshop. Comments were provided at and after the workshop during the comment period which ended on Friday, April 3, 2009. The public had the opportunity to provide written comments at the workshop or by fax, email, mail or online through the US 301 website. Approximately 280 people submitted comments through one of the above described methods.
In addition to the public workshop, several pre-workshop community meetings were held. DelDOT's letter of response to comments received and to those who attended the pre-workshop community meetings can be viewed here.
The above referenced 2008 General Assembly Bond Bill Epilogue language required DelDOT to submit a report to the General Assembly no later than May 1, 2009. As detailed in the report the department developed, evaluated and presented the Spur Road, Alternatives to the Spur Road, including the upgrade of existing US 301, and current traffic data at several pre-workshop community and stakeholder meetings and at a March 23, 2009 public workshop.
The comments received at the community and stakeholder meetings, as well as the public workshop and during the subsequent comment period showed support for the Spur Road. There was less support to upgrade existing US 301 in lieu of building the Spur Road. There was virtually no support for a No Build Alternative (No Spur Road and No Upgrade of Existing US 301) or an alternative that would have shifted the limited access Spur Road to the east, along existing US 301.
The department recommends proceeding with the Green North +Spur Road Alternative. This alternative was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in their April 30, 2008 Record of Decision (ROD). This final approval cleared the way for the Department to secure FHWA authorizations to begin the acquisition of right-of-way and preparation of final design (preparation of construction bid documents), which were received in June 2008 and September 2008 respectively. Subject to availability of funding, the department further recommends completing final design and right-of-way acquisition for the entire US 301 project. This will ensure we are ready to go to construction when the economy recovers and we have an improved opportunity to sell long-term bonds, supported by toll revenues.
The US 301 project is a transportation initiative of which the entire state can be proud. After 40 years of debate and indecision, the department led an effort that culminated in the approval of an alternative (Green North + Spur) that satisfies a growing transportation need in southern New Castle County. This result was accomplished with the support of the majority of local residents and state and federal environmental resource and regulatory agencies.