by Terry Rogers
On Saturday, May 18, the overpass at Front Street and Route 1 opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by state officials, legislators and members of the community. The bridge was initially opened for foot and bicycle traffic, welcoming vehicle traffic later in the day.
“I am so excited to be here,” Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan said. “I cannot say enough about the community involvement in this project. We are very excited that this has finally come to fruition. This project was not supposed to be finished until August. I am so pleased that Diamond Materials was able to finish this project under budget and on time. I very rarely get to say those words.”
Cohan pointed out that this was the seventh overpass constructed on Route 1 in the past ten years. The goal is to eliminate dangerous crossovers along the Route 1 corridor, making a safer route for residents and visitors to the area.
“This is a very exciting day,” State Representative Bryan Shupe said. “This was a community effort to get this done. There have been multiple crashes here, some fatal and this will not only make things safer for our residents but also for our families who attend Milford High School and Milford Central Academy. I am also very excited for the branding on this overpass. Rob Pierce, our City Planner, helped create the design and now many people will see that Milford is a special place.” Representative Charles Postles agreed that the branding on the new overpass, which includes unique fencing, a mosaic pattern and a branded Milford. He said the structure “is not only functional but something that will give Milford an identity.”
Secretary Cohan told the large crowd gathered at the ribbon cutting that one of the first meetings she attended as Secretary of DelDOT was attended by Emmitt Venett, a Woods Haven resident who has been an outspoken supporter of an overpass in that location for many years. Secretary Cohan said that after the meeting, Venett gave her a “talking to” and made her promise to get this overpass done. According to residents in the area, the community has been promised an overpass for almost 40 years.
“This bridge signifies the reuniting of our community with Milford,” Vennett said. “We had no say when the 10th Street access was closed as we were not considered ‘part of Milford.’ We have experienced many crashes and deaths over the years and our residents were required to travel two miles out of their way just to get into town. I have to give credit to the many community members who showed up at critical meetings to get this done. This is an example of how it takes a village to get things done. The people who live in Woods Haven, Lighthouse Acres and other areas east of Route 1 who work, shop and worship in Milford no longer have to fear crossing over Route 1.”
Senator Gary Simpson who, along with Representative Harvey Kenton, were instrumental in getting DelDOT to live up to their promise of an overpass for this area, said that full appreciation needs to go to Secretary Cohan who finally made this happen after almost 40 years.
“This is not only a matter of safety, it is also a great economic development tool for our city,” Councilman Mike Boyle said. “Emmitt made people realize how important this project is to our residents and visitors. Secretary Cohan and others realized that this project could also be a way to bring people into our great town. Maybe when people who are driving up and down Route 1 from other areas hear that there is a festival, a dinner or a new restaurant opening will remember where we are because of this branding and take the time to visit us.”
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.