Neighbors Worry Push for Overpass on DE 1 Will Hurt Prospects fo - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Neighbors Worry Push for Overpass on DE 1 Will Hurt Prospects for Different Overpass

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MILFORD, Del. (WBOC) - Emmett Venett lives in Milford off DE 14 on the east side of DE 1.

He says a lot of people come through the intersection of the two roads - going to and from Milford and Harrington or the beaches.

"All of them converge on this intersection at the peak times. It's a zoo," said Venett. "Nobody knows who has the right of way. No one observes the stop signs because if you're going to make it, you have to time it. It's a very hazardous situation."

DelDOT has plans to build an overpass there to alleviate the traffic issues. It's a project, though, that's pretty far down on the department's priority list. However, it is still higher than a proposed overpass a few miles away in South Frederica at the intersection of DE 1 and Milford Neck Road.

That overpass project has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years. Supporters of the planned Kent County Regional Sports Complex have said they can't build their multi-million dollar economic engine and tourism facility without it.

They say an overpass is the only way to ensure safe access to the complex with more than a dozen soccer, field hockey, lacrosse fields. And they've been pushing DelDOT to move the project up on the priority list.

Venett worries if DelDOT does that the overpass at DE 14 will drop on the list.

"We're all competing for scarce dollars. That's what's put us in conflict with the sports complex," Venett said.

"We are very supportive of the sports complex," said DelDOT Sec. Shailen Bhatt. "We want to see that project succeed. It just can't be on the back of a $30 million grade separated interchange."

Sec. Bhatt says concerns like Venett's are a big part of why he's not supportive of moving the South Frederica project up.

"If you want me to move South Frederica up in that list, what don't you want me to build? And there are people who are going to say - 'Our project was supposed to go. Now you're advancing that project.'"

Bill Strickland, with the Greater Kent Committee, the organization pushing for the sports complex, says his group advocates for all Kent County overpasses on DE 1.

And he doesn't pit the two overpasses against each other.

"I'm not sure I buy into the assertion that the South Frederica project delays in any way - if moved up - the DE 14 project," Strickland said.

Sec. Bhatt says a move up would impact similar-sized projects in Kent County.

Venett says the issue boils down to safety. And DelDOT's data shows the intersections impacted by the DE 14 overpass are more dangerous.

"Economic development is like motherhood and apple pie. But it's not what keeps us alive," he said.

Back and forth aside, considering the priority list position of both these projects and DelDOT's ailing budget, there's no telling if either will get underway as currently scheduled.

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