Rehoboth Boulevard changes proposed to council

Terry RogersGovernment, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Dover/Kent County MPO offered these recommendations to council to make Rehoboth Boulevard safer

At a recent meeting, Milford City Council heard a presentation from Dover/Kent County MPO, a planning organization that partners with municipalities and DelDOT with transportation infrastructure planning. Marilyn Smith, Executive Director, of the organization provided new council members with a brief explanation of what Dover/Kent County MPO’s responsibilities were.

“The MPO does transportation planning in all of Kent County. We are federally mandated, but we are independent. Independent both from the federal government, and independent from DelDOT, and it often comes up well are you just an arm of DelDOT. We are not,” Smith said. “The federal government designed MPOs to specifically be independent from transportation authority in the state. We work on transportation planning and policy. We’re very concerned about transportation infrastructure planning. So basically, we’re interested in how to get people from point A to point B, regardless of the mode that they’re trying to utilize.”

Smith explained that when they looked at transportation infrastructure, they did not solely look at roads.

“We think about people who walk, people who bike, people who may have limited mobility, people who rely on transit or don’t have transportation. So, we are really concerned about the wholeness of the transportation system, the wholeness of a connected, efficient transportation system for everybody,” Smith said. “If federal funds are going to be used for a transportation project in Kent County, chances are that project has to come through us in some way or another, whether it’s a feasibility study, which you’re going to see a little bit of tonight or some prioritization of recommendations.”

Dover/Kent County MPO also uses a significant amount of public participation when making recommendations. They also have a long-range plan that is updated every four years but goes out to 25 years. The organization tries to make sure the transportation projects they recommend take into consideration growth, both economic development and population. At a meeting the week before, Smith listened as priorities like housing, education, economic development and other factors were discussed.

“I stood up and I said to the group, with all due respect, you can’t have any of those things if you don’t have a connected vibrant, efficient, effective transportation system. And that’s where we come in to be your partner to make sure that those happen in Milford,” Smith said. “The important takeaway for you here, right at this point is that that we’ve been working on this since January, so we’re about halfway through, and we’ve had the opportunity to meet with all the municipalities in the county. We’ve met with the county, we’ve met with state agencies, we’ve met with federal partners. We’ve also been doing a lot of public outreach, which means we’ve been out at supermarkets and festivals, anywhere that anyone would give us a table. And we’ve been asking people what their opinions are about transportation and what we need to do in the future.

After providing details on what Kent MPO’s responsibilities were, Smith turned the presentation over to Malcolm Jacob, a transportation planner with Kent MPO. Jacob explained that the Rehoboth Boulevard corridor was not the safest, despite a few schools and large businesses in the area.

“This is a priority for the city. And it’s something that we make sure everybody no matter how they’re getting around, walking, biking, driving, make sure it’s safe for them to do so,” Jacob said. “And as you’ll see in a moment, we split the ideas into chunks, bite sized pieces so that way, if you like several of them, you can pursue them at the city’s own pace. And these aren’t set in stone or anything, but these are based on our analysis and working with the community. These are the best ideas that we came up with.”

Looking at crash data, the majority of them happened at intersections, which is to be expected on most roadways, but there have been some bicycle and pedestrian involved accidents. Jacob explained that the intersection by Dairy Queen, near Milford High School, had not been studied previously despite being a very busy intersection.

“Something that we learned through speaking with staff from school district is that it’s used heavily by students. They’re crossing the street to go to convenience stores, going to Dairy Queen, and also it’s used by the cross country team pretty regularly to get from one side to the other, but there’s no safe way to cross here,” Jacob said. “So that’s kind of a high priority for us. It’s a safety concern. And luckily, we don’t know of any specific incident that’s happened within that timeframe as far as students crossing and everything, but we want to make sure that’s resolved sooner than later.”

Dover/Kent County MPO held a public workshop in October 2023 where they began collecting information and a second in February 2024. They also had conversations with KSI, Perdue and I.G. Burton in addition to the school district.

“They’re important employers, especially Perdue in terms of numbers, and they were very eager to help us and tell us, “Well, our employees come in at this time they leave at that time. This is how they get here. This is where they’d like to go.” And that was very helpful and their input really shaped our recommendations,” Jacob said. “And like I said, I don’t need to go over those numbers. You’re familiar with the three main businesses along the corridor. Some of the things we’re recommending and one thing you’ll notice, we didn’t change a lot in the corridor as far as the road itself. I mean, the bus lane that’s basically directly in front of the Perdue property and that area is already there for a pull off. What isn’t there is a transit shelter for employees. They’re waiting out in the rain these days. They work regularly in the dark. We’re hoping to recommend simple shelters like that to make the wait more comfortable.”

Other recommendations included sidewalks, a shared use bicycle and pedestrian path marked driveway crossings, crosswalks at all signalized intersections, lighting upgrades, public transit bus stops and a pull-off for KSI buses who are turning into their parking lot. If DelDOT or the city were to implement all of the recommended changes, the cost for design was estimated at $1.6 million with construction costs estimated to range from $12.1 to $24.4 million. The proposed changes will be presented to the Dover/Kent MPO Advisory Committee before being presented to the Technical Advisory Committee. No decision was required from city council after the presentation.

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