A project that’s been in the works for a decade has now been suspended indefinitely as state leaders reconsider the support for the construction of Route 113.
It all started in 2000, when the General Assembly asked DelDOT to study the creation of a limited access highway from south of Dover to the southern border with Maryland. Over the next ten years, state offiicials interviewed 150 Sussex County leaders. Four regional working groups consisting of 101 people met nearly 90 times in open sessions and public workshops.
But after all that meeting and planning, there is no consensus among county leaders. Governor Markell and DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks made the decision to halt the project after a meeting with lawmakers from Sussex today. “This project was estimated to bring approximately $850 million of capital investment in Sussex County, create hundreds of jobs and relieve gridlock. However, this administration is not prepared to move forward and make that investment given the current lack of consensus from Sussex County elected officials,” Governor Markell said.
The project has been scrutinized in recent weeks after it was discovered that DelDOT paid developers millions of dollars not to build hundreds of homes in one of the country’s worst housing markets. A report to Governor Markell earlier this month concluded that the state transportation department displayed incompetence when it made three land deals related to the proposed U.S. 113 bypass.
That report resulted in two high profile DelDOT workers leaving their jobs. Director of Planning Ralph Reeb has resigned and Chief of Real Estate Wayne Rizzo is retiring, effective Feb. 1.
So after more than ten years of planning meetings, the project is dead. Markell says, “Should the Sussex County delegation decide to take ownership and leadership with respect to this project in the coming months, I will reconsider my decision. If not, there are other important projects throughout the state where these resources can and will be re-directed.”