At a recent meeting, Milford City Council reviewed proposed Transportation Improvement District (TID) plans provided by the Delaware Department of Transportation. The plan reviewed intersections in an area of Milford that was less than nine miles square but included 35 total intersections and 26 committed developments. The plan looks at road changes to accommodate growth through the year 2045. It includes changes to intersections on South Rehoboth Boulevard, Cedar Creek Road, Wilkins Road, Cedar Neck Road and more as well as the addition of bicycle and pedestrian paths.
“We aimed for basically less than 80 seconds of delay for the overall average intersection delay,” Sarah Coakley, DelDOT principal planner, said. “And so that’s basically the time it takes for a driver to slow down from going the posted speed limit on the approach to the intersection, the length of time that they’re stopped, and then the length of time speeding up to the posted speed limit. That is typically during the worst 30 minutes of traffic, but delays could get that long. The rest of the time it would be nowhere near that in terms of delayed intersections.”
The plan included eight new single-lane roundabouts, two new signalized intersections, new turn and through lanes as well as incorporation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan. One of the new signals would be at the intersection of Johnson Road and Route 30 and another at the northbound Route 1 off ramp on Cedar Neck Road. The plan also followed DelDOT’s Corridor Capacity Preservation Program with the addition of service roads parallel to northbound Route 1 along with an acceleration lane from Johnson Road onto southbound Route 1.
“Your bike plan is excellent, as it calls for pursuing a complete network of bike facilities for your residents and visitors and prioritizes which side of the road for shared use paths to be on,” Coakley said. “Optimistically, we’ve agreed to follow that in terms of prioritizing projects within the TID.”
Rob Pierce, City Planner, explained that the TID included a fee structure that must be adopted by council which would have developers cover the cost of the improvements, including intersection changes and the addition of bike lanes. The total cost should all improvements be implemented would be just under $85.7 million. DelDOT recommended a fee structure of between 30 and 35 percent for developers. Coakley explained that collecting higher fees could result in road projects receiving approval from DelDOT more quickly as there would be a higher municipal match.
“I think in terms of planning, we have a lot of land that’s slated for development in the southeast. And what this does allow some of those projects to move forward without doing a transportation impact study because it’s already been done for them,” Mark Whitfield, City Manager, said. “So, projects can move faster. Developers like it because projects can move more quickly. But we also have a plan in place to put improvements to address the traffic concerns and demands that would have seen. I’d like to say I think I believe we’re ahead of the game on this project by looking ahead and planning ahead. Knowing what those transportation improvements are going to need to be made in order to address the additional traffic that we’re going to see due to these developments.”
Councilman Dan Marabello asked how much the addition of roundabouts would impact surrounding land. Coakley stated that, in some cases, a roundabout may take less land than an intersection, pointing to one on South Rehoboth Boulevard. In other areas, DelDOT would need to purchase additional land, but Coakley explained that they try to minimize how much private land they need to use. Councilman Todd Culotta asked if it was possible to hold a public hearing on the proposed fee scale and intersection changes.
“I would be happy to come down again and do a public hearing or public workshop,” Coakley said. “I agree that we only want to do this once, so we don’t want people complaining after we have made the changes.”
Pierce stated that the fees would be reviewed annually to be sure that cost was keeping up with construction which was similar to how the city handled impact fees. Councilman Brian Baer asked if Sussex County would contribute any funds and Pierce stated that the county had not signed off on the TID agreement which meant only roads within city limits would be impacted.
A public hearing will be held on April 10 and council will vote on the proposed plan as well as the fee structure at that time.
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