City Commits to Improve Gateways

By Terry Rogers

In December 2016, the City of Milford submitted an application for funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements that could include bike facilities, crosswalks and traffic calming techniques. The funding, through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) through DelDOT, would be for pedestrian and bicycle improvements along portions of Northeast and Northwest Front Street between Rehoboth Boulevard and Route 113.

“The project is in the preliminary stages,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “Types of improvements could include new sidewalks, curbing, multi-use paths, landscaping and bumpouts, bicycle facilities, crosswalks and other road improvements. The City has been working with the state on appropriate signage along Route 1 at the interchange and there has been discussion about including Milford’s branding on the bridge structure. Once the project is underway, more information will be available.”

Route 14, which is Northeast and Northwest Front Street as it travels through the City of Milford, is a primary east-west transportation route through the town. Streetscaping investments have been made in the past along Front Street between Church and Washington Streets. Mr. Pierce said that the TAP project would build upon those investments, improving pedestrian and bicycle traffic while providing some right-of-way beautification. The alternative transportation facilities would primarily serve the local population, but right-of-way improvements will make the corridor more attractive for visitors as well.

DelDOT is in the process of gaining rights-of-way to construct a new overpass that will bring traffic from Route 1 into Milford along this corridor. Residents of Woods Haven community have been pushing for the grade-separated intersection for many years as they often have difficulty accessing Route 1, especially during the summer months. Acquisition of property began in August 2015 and should be completed shortly. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2017 with completion anticipated in 2019. DelDOT says that the project is on time and should be completed as scheduled.

The TAP application will provide funding that the City believes will improve the corridor that may grow busier after the installation of the overpass. The TAP program is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act which was signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act sets aside $844 million each year for transportation alternative projects, which the improvements to Route 14 will fall under. The City will be responsible for 20 percent of the costs of the project. Milford’s initial commitment towards the project is $30,000 and Council voted to move funds from the City’s Economic Development fund to cover those costs.

In addition Council also voted to locate service organization signs, which had been removed from Route 113 during the replacement of a welcome sign, to a location on Front Street between the pumping station and the police station. This will allow visitors and residents who are traveling through Milford on the Route 14 corridor to see the signs. Initially, Council wanted to locate the sign on the corner of Walnut and Front Street by the municipal parking lot, but it was determined that the location may not be suitable.

“I don’t have a preference for where the service organization sign goes, but let’s make sure it will hold up,” Councilman Chris Mergner said. “If we are going to put money into it based on the designs I’ve seen, which look really good, let’s do it right. I have faith in Parks and Recreation that they will choose the right location and  make it look beautiful.” Mayor Bryan Shupe said that the City has been talking to local service groups like the Lions and Rotary Clubs who are interested in assisting with the sign. Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said Council also needs to be sure the service organization logos are large enough to see as people travel through town.

Council voted unanimously to earmark $30,000 for the TAP improvements upon approval of the application by the state. If the application is approved, the improvements will be completed during the resurfacing project DelDOT plans for Route 14 in the near future.

“We are in preliminary discussions with DelDOT regarding these improvements,” Mr. Pierce said. “DelDOT will prepare a conceptual design package for the City to review prior to beginning the final design. Depending on funding, final design may begin in Spring 2018 with possible design completed by Spring 2019.”

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