Camden Bypass Moving Forward, Forcing Some From Homes - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Camden Bypass Moving Forward, Forcing Some From Homes

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Willow Grove Road. Willow Grove Road.

CAMDEN, Del. --- Diane Collison gets emotional talking about the planned Camden Bypass.

That's because traffic diverted from Camden's historic district by way of the anticipated 2-mile roadway may soon be traveling next to her home.

"There's no way I can live here if it's going to be around traffic," she said.

Delaware's Department of Transportation is planning to build the bypass between Willow Grove Road and Lebanon Road, a pair of roads that comprise State Route 10, and reroute traffic away from Camden Wyoming Avenue, which connects the segments of SR 10. Much of it will be constructed on undeveloped or rural property.

But the west end of the bypass will require demolition of some homes and construction on private property along Willow Grove Road through eminent domain.

A rendering of the west end of the bypass.

 Engineers initially placed Collison's home directly in the path of the new bypass but she successfully pleaded with DelDOT to spare the house she'd lived in for decades.

Now, she fears that the state's new plan to build the west end of the bypass around her home will make the house unlivable.

"There will be tractor trailers, dump trucks, trash trucks and cars all night long. They're going to be around my bedroom. There's no way I can stay here," she said.

Construction on the project may not begin until 2023, though plans are well underway to proceed with a project that remains one of the state's top transportation priorities.

C.R. McLeod, a DelDOT spokesman, said all of the affected property owners have been contacted and eminent domain agreements needed to obtain land for the bypass will result in fair compensation.

McLeod acknowledged Collison's decision to remain at her home, but noted the eminent domain procedure is not an uncommon tactic used for projects benefiting the public at large.

"It's all part of our right of way process for any time we're doing a road project around the state," he said.

Officials expect the bypass could potentially result in thousands of vehicles no longer traveling through Camden's historic downtown, which sees a number of large trucks baring down on single-land roads shared by regular vehicle traffic. The town has included the bypass as part of its comprehensive plan for years.

By connecting Willow Grove Road directly to East Lebanon Road, officials believe tractor trailers and other through traffic will avoid the central part of Camden, thereby improving safety and reducing wear and tear to local roads.

Beverly Knight, owner of Knight's Fine Jewelry on Camden Wyoming Avenue, said the bypass will help reduce truck traffic on town roadways that already get a lot of use.

"When children get out of school here it ties up this town. Streets get blocked," she said.

A number of roundabouts are planned along the new connector road, according to DelDOT renderings of the project.

One of them will be located on the east end of the bypass at the connection with Lebanon Road and will connect traffic to U.S. Route 13, Old North Road, and the bypass itself.

Collison's neighbor Linda Bond, whose property will be built upon for the west end of the bypass, said having fewer trucks and cars traveling through the heart of Camden comes at the expense of herself and her neighbors.

"That's why they're doing all this to us," she said. "To get them out of six blocks of Camden."

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