The thorny issue of highways and development


Good morning,

Delaware has long struggled with the (which came first) chicken or the egg issue of highway construction and development.

We do know that new and improved highways will spur development, at times adding to congestion.

The Route 1 project jump-started development from Dover to I-95, while easing traffic woes at peak periods – at least for a time. Naturally enough, prime tracts along interchanges have been snapped up in anticipation of projects moving forward.


The issue popped up with the early success of the DETurf athletic field complex near Frederica as work goes on with improvements along adjacent Route 1 that include interchanges.

The need for interchanges and overpasses rather than more stop lights, has grown as population growth and a growing volume of traffic on Route 1 pushed congestion to the south.

But did the complex get an indirect subsidy from the state?

The answer is basically no, although some might argue that such projects need to kick in some of the costs. After all, the original developers of Christiana Mall walked away with a pile of money and should have kicked in something for an interchange.

Route 1 projects were in the works for many years. In fact, the Delaware Department of Transportation had earlier bought land for the highway expansion.

It was simply a matter of developers estimating how long it would take for the roadwork to move beyond the planning stages.

There is the potential for the well connected to get inside information and get a jump on competitors. That has long been an issue all over the country,

The next challenge will center on less visible routes that are becoming clogged.

Already, we have seen some agitation in Sussex County, with at least a few people at least half-seriously suggesting that the county gets into the highway business.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Trust Fund is likely to be tapped out in the next three years or so. Once again, the General Assembly will have to deal with the dreaded gas tax, transportation fees or perhaps both.

On that happy note, enjoy your day and as always your thoughts and observations are welcome. – Doug Rainey, publisher.

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