By Terry Rogers
On Thursday, October 20 Delaware Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan announced that plans were underway to begin construction of a grade-separated intersection, or overpass, at the intersection of Front Street and Route 1. Residents on the east side of the highway have been fighting for an overpass in the area for decades.
“The grade-separated intersection is necessary for public safety,” Secretary Cohan said. “Right-of-way acquisition began in August 2015 and is expected to take another year to complete. This means that the overpass construction should begin in the fall of 2017. This will require significant traffic pattern changes that could inconvenience residents for a short time, much like they did at the Thompsonville construction sight, but in the long run, we believe that residents will be much happier and feel much safer once the intersection is completed.”
For decades, residents on the east side of Route 1 have been fighting for an overpass at the intersection, especially those living in the Woods Haven development. Emmett Vennett, a resident of Woods Haven, has been very vocal about the need for an overpass in the area, compiling statistics and information showing that other overpass projects that were moved ahead of the Front Street intersection were far less dangerous.
DelDOT originally planned to begin construction of an overpass in the area in 2014, but the project was delayed until at least 2016, moving another project located in Frederica ahead of the Front Street project due to the proposed building of a large sports complex, further angering residents in the area. The announcement on Thursday was a relief to Mr. Vennett and other residents east of Route 1, even though they are aware that there will be some inconveniences related to new traffic patterns.
“The overpass coming is great,” Mr. Vennett said. “It will save lives and injuries at Front Street and Tenth Street. Senator Gary Simpson’s support to this project has been the reason we are finally getting it. Interim traffic will need to be rerouted and will be painful to all east side residents, but at least DelDOT is finally doing what it promised in 1973 when the right-of-ways were established. Secretary Cohan brings a cooperative spirit to DelDOT so we are hoping to get this done with working groups that include the community.” Mr. Vennett said that an interim traffic light is needed for the estimated year and a half that will close the crossings at Front Street and that he has hopes that this request will be implemented.
Senator Gary Simpson said that he is very happy that the overpass at Northeast Front Street will finally come to fruition after so long. “This project has been a longtime coming and I know that the safety it provides will be welcomed by everyone,” Senator Simpson said. “I appreciate the patience of those folks having to travel that section of the highway during the construction period, but I know it will be worth it when the ribbon is finally cut.”
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