US 113 bypass, added lanes proposed for Millsboro
State transportation proposal includes bypass and additional travel lanes Molly Murray/ The News Journal
Millsboro has it all when it comes to traffic. There's the eastbound beach rush, clogging the downtown business district; the southbound beach rush heading to Bethany, Fenwick and Ocean City, Maryland; there's the through traffic; and the local commuters and the dozens of tractor-trailers with their live chicken cargo headed to the Mountaire poultry plant just east of town.
For years, residents have asked for relief but the options presented significant obstacles and opposition from the loss of valuable farmland to destruction of wetlands.
On Tuesday, state transportation officials will outline their latest plan at a workshop followed by a public hearing.
"We hope to get the community's support," said Bryan Behrens, the project manager for the U.S. 113 North-South Study.
The latest proposal, tweaked to address community concerns from 2015, includes a bypass to move eastbound beach traffic and east-west through traffic north of the municipality on a limited access highway. The bypass will allow state transportation officials to remove the traffic light at U.S. 113 and Del. 20 -- an intersection where there have been many accidents over the years -- and move traffic with access ramps and an overpass. The new road would reconnect with Del. 24 near the Mountaire poultry plant east of town.
The second part of the project is designed to ease north-south congestion along U.S. 113. A third traffic lane, both north and southbound are proposed for the stretch of highway through Millsboro. Four traffic lights would remain.
The total cost of design and construction is estimated at $120 million, with some portion of that coming from the Federal Highway Administration, Behrens said.
The estimate does not include land acquisition costs though Behrens said that the additional travel lanes on U.S. 113 will likely be pulled from the wide strip of land that is now the median along the divided highway.
Behrens said with this latest proposal, they have moved the proposed bypass farther north of Betts Pond to reduce the impact on a nearby subdivision.
"This alternative is drastically reduced in terms of impact," he said.
The new road would require the acquisition of 5 acres of farmland, down from 65 acres in the earlier bypass proposal. One acre of wetland would be impacted compared to 30 acres in the previous plan.
If there is public support, the next step is an environmental impact report followed by a record of decision for the federal highway agency.
If the project is approved, it will take 5 to 7 years before construction will begin, Behrens said. The work, which would likely be done in phases, is expected to take 2 to 3 years, he said.
Contact Molly Murray at (302) 463-3334 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MollyMurraytnj.
If You Go
What: U.S. 113 North-South Corridor Proposal
When: Tuesday, Feb. 7
Time: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- public workshop followed by a public hearing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Millsboro Town Center, 322 Wilson Highway, Millsboro.