The following is the response from DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan to a Cape Gazette editorial concerning the current state of the 5 Points intersection:
“If DelDOT had a crystal ball in 1940 to see the growth ahead for eastern Sussex County in the ensuing 80 years, it would have been easy to plan for the infrastructure needs of the current day. However, with a nearly built-out landscape along the Route 1 corridor that would be unrecognizable to anyone who traversed this roadway as it was back then, we can only look forward and determine the best possible solution to the congestion that now exists at Five Points.
By 2045, The Delaware Population Consortium estimates there will be approximately 47,000 more residents in Sussex County. That number doesn’t include the seasonal population, which adds several thousand more temporary residents. In the past five years alone, the number of vehicles registered in Sussex County has grown by more than 40,000 vehicles to 267,527, which is also indicative of the growth that has been taking place in the county.
Managing this growth will require an even greater focus on the link between land use and transportation planning. Sussex County and DelDOT are collaborating to build a new Partnership for Mobility that will bring creative solutions to the County. Currently, three efforts are underway that will guide our decision-making for the Five Points intersection.
First, Sussex County is currently in the midst of developing its 10-year comprehensive plan that will be adopted by Sussex County Council and approved by Governor Carney by June 2018. DelDOT is currently working with the Planning & Zoning Commission to draft the mobility (transportation) chapter of this plan, which will contain goals, objectives, and strategies on how to improve our transportation system.
Most importantly, several of the strategies will focus on how to meet our transportation challenges in congested areas, such as Five Points. This week the Planning & Zoning Commission will be discussing the draft strategies at its upcoming workshop on July 14th.
Secondly, DelDOT is working with Sussex County Council and staff to develop the Henlopen Transportation Improvement District (TID). The TID will coordinate land use with transportation and will provide recommendations for district-wide transportation improvements associated with future development. To that point, we are also working closely with Representatives Schwartzkopf and Smyk and Senator Lopez as they have stressed the urgent need for infrastructure solutions in eastern Sussex County that we can incorporate into our Capital Transportation Program.
Third, the Five Points Transportation Study will form a Strategic Working Group to reach early consensus on potential concepts to improve local traffic in the Five Points area. As reported in the Cape Gazette, Phase I of this study remains in the very early stages with DelDOT and Sussex County planning staff, as we work on the draft mobility chapter for the comprehensive plan and the Henlopen TID which will impact the solutions we pursue for Five Points. Our goal is to have the Strategic Working Group in place by November 2017.
While these planning efforts do not provide short-term relief for the existing congestion, it is a necessary process to ensure we develop the best possible solution for Five Points. Any new plan will require buy-in from the community, as some past proposals were deemed unacceptable, including the overpass plan presented in 2007, which was met with intense criticism for the project’s scope.
Over the next six years, we have more than $837 million in projects scheduled for Sussex County in the Capital Transportation Program, and any project to improve Five Points will surely be a large-scale, multi-million dollar investment. It’s important that we get it right.”