Neighbors Speak Out on West Dover Connector Project - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Neighbors Speak Out on West Dover Connector Project

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. - A road construction project called the "West Dover Connector" has been under discussion for some time.     

The road will connect some of the busiest streets in Dover to US13.
Thirteen homes have been bought out by DelDOT along Charles Polk Road to make room for the bypass.

Byron Collins and Valerie Ballinger have both lived in the neighborhood along Charles Polk Road for more than 20 years and say while they understand the road is a value to Dover, they never would have thought they'd be living next to a highway.

"We understand change and if you need to put this road in. No one is saying anything about that, but we are adversely impacted," said Collins.

"If they're going to put a berm, and a double road you can see there is not enough room," said Bollinger.

The 3.2-mile road project starts at the intersection of North Street and Saulsbury Road, near the Eden Hill Commercial Center. The road will partially parallel New Burton Road, then cross a bridge over the southern railroad tracks, connecting to Charles Polk Road in Rodney Village.
Homeowners want the state of Delaware to buy their homes or compensate them accordingly.

Project manager John Gaines says DelDOT buys real estate based on project needs.

"That's determined on engineering and the design. Beyond those lines we don't purchase anything additional, unless it's going to be an uneconomical remnant. for example, a piece of property that has no value to the owner after our project comes through. and that's not the case with those homeowners.

Gaines says the existing road, Charles Polk Road, will remain.

"There will be a landscaped buffer in between those two separate roadways. Also, as part of this project, we're putting a 10-foot multi-use path throughout the entire length and it's going to connect Brecknock Park to Schutte Park. There's also two new parks that will come in," said Gaines.

Still, neighbors are concerned about the impact of the construction project.

Collins and Bollinger said neighbors had a meeting in June with state representative Andrea Bennett and Senator Colin Bonini's staff about their concerns.

"They said they touched base with the project manager for DelDOT. He said by eminent domain standards, they didn't have to take our homes, but that didn't mean they weren't interested. So what's that supposed to mean? That's a big question mark? said Collins.

Neighbors say they have tried selling their homes, but real estate agents say no one wants to buy a home that could soon be near a bypass.

"Our houses have dropped like $40,000. We're talking lots of money," said Bollinger.

"This was a neighborhood. We didn't expect a road. My wife and I had two realtors and two different appraisers and they said it's a negative impact on us trying to sell our home. That's a reason we got together and signed a petition," said Collins.

Neighbors say they are not giving up without a fight.

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