Public Workshop Overview
March 23, 2009 - Public Workshop Summary
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.
In addition to numerous display boards, a PowerPoint presentation was made at 3:15, 4:15, 5:15, 6:15 and 7:15. The presentations, attended by approximately 250 people, provided an orientation for the workshop and an explanation of what was being presented at the workshop and where that information could be located in the display hall. Each workshop attendee was provided a copy of all of the workshop display boards, the impacts matrix, a landscaping handout, a copy of the public notice and a comment form. Additionally, there were tables and chairs arranged so that attendees could create and submit their comment form at the workshop.
All pre-workshop and workshop related information is included in this notebook including public announcements and flyers promoting the workshop, information on pre-workshop community meetings, information from the workshop including sign-in sheets, handouts, and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, and a copy of all of the comments received at the workshop and during the comment period. Copies of this notebook are being provided to the General Assembly and will become a part of the project record.
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 advance of the workshop, a public notice was printed in the Middletown Transcript and the News Journal, a press briefing was provided to the Middletown Transcript and the News Journal, and an FYI workshop flyer was mailed to all residences and businesses in the 19709 zip code as well as those individuals on the project mailing list who live outside the 19709 zip code. Copies of the FYI workshop flyer were also provided to the towns of Cecilton, MD and Galena, MD. A total of over 14,000 flyers were distributed. Additionally, the US 301 Web site (www.us301.deldot.gov) was updated in the weeks and days in advance of the workshop with a copy of the FYI workshop flyer and a draft copy of the PowerPoint presentation.
In the weeks leading up to the public workshop, members of the Project Team reached out to a number of communities affected by the mainline US 301, the Spur Road and any potential upgrading to existing US 301. Community meetings were conducted for:
- Airmont and Mount Hope, Tuesday, March 3
- Lea Eara Farms and Summit Farms, Monday, March 9
- Summit Bridge Farms, Tuesday, March 10
- Chesapeake Meadow, Dickerson Farms, Mid Farms and Fairview Farms, Wednesday, March 11
- Spring Arbor, Wednesday, March 11
- The Legends, Monday, March 16
- Residents, Property Owners and Businesses along Existing US 301, Tuesday, March 17
- Summit Pond, Wednesday, March 18
- Springmill, Thursday, March 19
Summaries and sign-in sheets for each of these meetings are included in this notebook. These meetings were attended by approximately 350 people. At the community meetings, the comments/questions were expressed verbally in contrast to the written comment forms that were completed during or after the workshop. There is a great deal of similarity in the verbal and written comments; however, at the community meetings, several participants expressed concern with the time and cost associated with revisiting what they understood had already been approved.
Additionally, contact was made or messages were left for the communities of Middletown Village, Westside Hunt, Fox Hunter Crossing, Matapeake, Crystal Run Farms and Post & Rail Farms. In addition to community meetings, individual meetings were conducted in advance of the public workshop with numerous property and business owners and with state, county and municipal elected officials.
PURPOSE OF PUBLIC WORKSHOP
The purpose and primary focus of the public workshop was to present information regarding the Spur Road and potential alternatives for the Spur Road including an Upgrade of Existing US 301, present the most current traffic projections and to present the results of additional studies that were commitments in the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision. Additionally, the workshop provided the opportunity to present potential design modifications to some parts of new Mainline US 301 and options for fixing the sharp curve south of Summit Bridge.
The comment form distributed at the workshop and the online comment form requested people to provide comments and ask questions about the project. The summary of comments is divided into two segments. The first segment focuses on comments related to support or opposition to the Spur Road or the Upgrade of Existing US 301. The remainder of this summary focuses on other comments received at the workshop and during the comment period.
COMMENTS ON THE SPUR ROAD OR THE UPGRADE OF EXISTING US 301
The Project Team received approximately 280 comments at the workshop or during the comment period. The overwhelming majority (235) were focused on the Spur Road or the Upgrade of Existing US 301:
- 115 comments supported the Spur Road, with 63 of those comments also opposing the Upgrade of Existing US 301. In addition, 32 separate comments opposed the Upgrade of Existing US 301.
- A petition was signed by 400 members of the Springmill community supporting the Spur Road and opposing the Upgrade of Existing US 301.
- A petition was signed by 117 members of the Summit Pond community supporting the Spur Road and opposing the Upgrade of Existing US 301.
- A comment was submitted on behalf of the Board for the Fox Hunter Crossing community supporting the Spur Road and opposing the Upgrade of Existing US 301.
- An overwhelming majority of the comments received in support of the Spur Road and in opposition to the Upgrade of Existing US 301 were from the communities of Summit Pond, Springmill or residents/businesses along existing US 301.
- 81 comments opposed the Spur Road, with 71 of those comments also supporting the Upgrade of Existing US 301. In addition, 2 separate comments supported the Upgrade of Existing US 301.
- A comment was received from the President of Lea Eara Farms and Summit Farms on behalf of the 257 homes in those communities opposing the Spur Road and supporting the Upgrade of Existing US 301
- The majority of comments received in opposition to the Spur Road and in support of the Upgrade of Existing US 301 were from the communities of Chesapeake Meadow, Summit Bridge Farms, Westside Hunt and property owners impacted by the Spur Road.
Some of the comments in Support of the Spur Road include:
- Spur Road is in the best interests of most residents and businesses.
- Spur Road does a better job of achieving the goals of the project by separating trucks from local traffic and placing them on a freeway with no traffic lights.
- Although the Spur Road is more costly than upgrading existing US 301, the Spur Road does a better job at addressing future needs due to the growth expected in the Middletown area.
- The Spur Road was already decided – stop wasting time and money revisiting the issue simply because a few people who live near the Spur are unhappy.
- The Spur Road is the safer roadway.
- The Spur Road will help alleviate congestion on existing US 301.
- The Spur Road will reduce traffic on Choptank Road.
- The Spur Road affects less wetlands than upgrading existing US 301.
- The Spur Road has less impact on properties and the environment.
- The Spur Road is consistent with what has been discussed in the area for years and years; let’s not start this whole process all over again.
- The Spur Road can be paid for with toll revenues whereas upgrading existing US 301 will require state funds.
- The Spur Road will lead to less air and noise pollution.
- The Spur Road will have less impact during construction.
- The Spur Road is the right decision, but more berms/barriers should be constructed along the communities affected by the Spur Road.
Some of the comments in Opposition to the Spur Road include:
- The Spur Road affects too many communities and properties.
- New traffic volumes show a reduction in the amount of traffic using the Spur Road; these data are difficult to understand.
- The Spur Road is inaccessible to many of the communities that would be adjacent to it.
- We should wait until the impact on traffic volumes of the northbound weigh station is determined.
- Cars and trucks will avoid the tolls thereby reducing vehicle traffic and impacting the funding element of the Spur Road.
- The Spur Road is too expensive and eliminating the Spur Road will save the state of Delaware millions of dollars.
- The Spur Road will change the character of the countryside
- If you must do a Spur Road, it needs to be moved farther away from Summit Bridge Farms and the design speed and the median should be reduced.
- The Spur Road will have increased noise impacts.
- The Spur Road is not consistent with “Livable Delaware” principles.
- Fixing the Summit Bridge curve is a separate project and therefore should not be used as a reason to support the Spur Road.
- See how new construction on existing 301 works before moving forward with the Spur Road; additionally, lower the speed limit and add additional law enforcement to force trucks to a different route.
Some of the comments in Support of the Upgrade of Existing US 301 include:
- Will be less expensive than the Spur Road.
- Even with the Spur Road will still need to upgrade existing US 301 at some point in the future.
- Will alleviate traffic problems before, during and after construction of mainline US 301.
- The new traffic volumes show that upgrading existing US 301 is adequate to handle the projected traffic.
Some of the comments in Opposition to the Upgrade of Existing 301 include:
- Would have too many impacts on businesses, properties and the environment.
- Will not alleviate heavy truck traffic mixing with local traffic and school bus traffic.
- Accessing businesses and communities from a four lane highway does not make any sense.
- Would lead to continued congestion, deterioration of existing roads and infrastructure and a less safe roadway.
- Would increase the number of traffic lights.
- Too many u-turns would be needed to access properties and businesses.
- Would bring the roadway too close to the community of Springmill, affecting the stormwater ponds, affecting several homes, affecting access to and from the community and bringing additional noise and air pollution.
OTHER COMMENTS RECEIVED AT THE WORKSHOP
- Improve the berms (higher, longer, landscaped with trees) near Spring Arbor, Springmill, Summit Bridge Farms and Chesapeake Meadow.
Existing US 301 Interchange – Potential Modification
- The proposed interchange modification at existing 301 will have severe negative impacts (noise, pollution) on Middletown Baptist Church and the proposed maintenance yard or park and ride would limit the ability for the church to use their expansion property.
- Support design modification.
Port Penn Road/Toll Free Ramps – Potential Modification
- Concerned with proposed Port Penn Road/Toll Free Ramp configuration; local road should remain open, should not try to attract more traffic to this area and it is too costly.
- Port Penn road and access to toll-free ramp is a good recommendation.
- Should build a toll free ramp to access SR-1 from Route 13 north; although an added expense, would eliminate the traffic signal, reduce the need for jake-breaking, traffic would be at merging speed and reduce accidents.
Sharp Curve South Of Summit Bridge
- Support interchange Option #B.
- Support fact that fixing sharp curve project is independent from the Spur Road.
- Support original Summit Bridge trumpet design.
- Do not like any of the options presented to fix sharp curve.
- Fixing the curve is unnecessary; driver behavior needs to change.
- Consideration should be given to locals to pay no tolls or a reduced rate.
- Concern with visual impacts from lighting, signs and view
- Concerned with the impact on Bunker Hill Elementary School and the new Appoquinimink High School.
- Need to do a new noise analysis since much of the traffic data has changed.
- Mainline 301 should follow the Spur route and go north to the Summit Bridge and then continue north on 896 until it meets I-95.
- Jamison’s Corner Road roundabouts will help slow traffic but still keep it moving, there should not be rumble strips on the ramps.
- The timing of the construction must take into account the needs of the local businesses such as Middletown Veterinary Hospital.
- Mainline 301 should go to the west of Appoquinimink High School to avoid Spring Arbor.