Route 26 Widening to Begin in Ocean View - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Route 26 Widening to Begin in Ocean View

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OCEAN VIEW, Del.- A new multi-million dollar construction project is under way that will widen Route 26 in Sussex County. The east-west highway was scheduled to see roadwork on Monday morning, but was delayed due to inclement weather. Once the project starts, it is expected to take nearly three years to finish. 

The first step of the project will be the "grubbing," a process of removing trees, shrubs, and stumps from the ground, adjacent to the highway. Once the area is cleared, the road will be widened, adding a turning lane as well as a bike lane and additional sidewalk space. 

The initial work is being done between Route 17 and Irons Lane in the Ocean View area. That is the first place where DelDOT said there could be road delays as a result. 

At the Salted Rim, a restaurant in Ocean View, owner Karen Fritz was hard at work making margaritas and doing paperwork. She said she's a little salty about the new Route 26 project, which would occur just outside her doorstep.

Fritz said her main fear is having another project like the one on Route 54, which she said was "terrible" for neighboring businesses. 

"I do not want another Route 54," she said. "It was awful. For two and half - almost three years it was horrible. Summer business was tremendously effected."

With that bad experience fresh in her mind, she said she hopes the brand new project on Route 26 will be different. She said DelDOT has been responsive to concerns of residents, organizing meetings with the businesses to talk about the plan.

When the project is finished, it will widen the area between the Assawoman Canal and the St. George's Church in Clarksville. It will take 900 "working days" for this to be completed, according to DelDOT officials.

This project follows a completed one from more than a decade ago, which widened the road between the canal and Route 1. State Senator Gerald Hocker said this new widening project should have been done a long time ago.

"The need for improvements on Route 26 is well past due," he said.

Hocker, who owns a grocery store adjacent to the highway said he has been supportive of this policy since he was elected 12 years earlier. He said it will limit congestion in the long run, although he admits it might create some headaches in the meantime for some local businesses. 

"My phone's gonna be ringing off the hook," he said. "But I will deal with it as it comes the best way possible."

The project will cost approximately $30 Million. The county is responsible for about $3 million of this cost, according to the county engineer. Of the remaining $27 million, the federal government is paying 80 percent, leaving the remaining cost for the state. 

John Lambrino of Fenwick Island said he believes businesses will suffer. He said the worst thing that could happen for local businesses would be the loss of visitors due to lane closures. 

"Basic concern is traffic flow," he said. "It's that you can't get people down the road fast enough and they can't get them into their restaurants and businesses and you can't get them to buy their products."

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