OCEAN VIEW, Del. - A project to widen Route 26 in Sussex County may not start for another year.
The Delaware Department of Transportation said construction could begin by Fall, 2013. The project website called for work to begin by fall of this year.
The start date was delayed for various budgetary reasons, said DelDOT chief engineer Natalie Barnhart in an email.
As part of the project, which has been in the works for years, the state plans to add a center turn lane to reduce delays. The work includes Route 26, known locally as Atlantic Avenue, from Millville to the Assawoman Canal in Ocean View.
Federal funding is expected to cover the roughly $30 million project, Barnhart said.
Businesses along the Route 26 corridor have expressed concerns following headaches and delays with the nearby Route 54 widening project. Frustrated after delays and a summer of struggling sales, businesses along Route 54 rallied the community, started a petition and pressured the state to finish the project before Memorial Day weekend; the road opened days before the holiday.
"I am concerned about the length of the project and what it's going to do to not only my business but the other businesses in town," said Ken Hudson, a partner in an Ocean View business along the highway.
Ocean View business owners Bill Winkler Sr. and Beth Rogers suggested the state complete the work at night to impact fewer drivers.
"I think it definitely needs to be done, so we have to work through it," said Rogers. "I just hope they're willing to work with us as well."
DelDOT said it will take steps to minimize the impact to drivers. Barnhart said the state will ponder time restrictions on the work. The chief engineer said the state would consider lessons learned from the Route 54 project when completing work on Route 26.
Crews could begin relocating utilities by the fall. DelDOT also upgraded four nearby roads to prepare them as alternate routes for the main project.
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