“It’s not too late” for coastal Sussex County to address increasing traffic congestion and land development issues, according to a study supported by the Greater Lewes Foundation and the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program. The study, conducted by a Florida-based consultant, offers a series of recommendations to protect the coastal area’s quality of life through better integration of transportation and land-use planning efforts.
The study was conducted by Whit Blanton, vice-president of Renaissance Planning Group based near Orlando, Florida. The firm provides consulting services to government agencies across the United States. Blanton also chairs the American Planning Association’s Transportation Planning Division.
“The character of the coastal towns of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, and Dewey Beach and their historic, natural setting attracts hundreds of thousands of people annually,” Blanton says in the study’s 18-page final report. “However, the area’s popularity and attractive climate threaten to harm the unique character and quality of life of these coastal communities through rapid development and increasing levels of traffic congestion.”
Blanton notes that “it’s not too late to change the direction things appear to be heading.” He points out that a large portion of coastal Sussex County remains undeveloped and says that “with careful and cooperative planning, steps can be taken to ensure that future development provides a positive influence on community character, and preservation of important natural and man-made resources.”
The following are among the study’s recommendations:
Sussex County and the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) should work together to define a set of community goals and indicators for use in benchmarking progress toward positive change in integrating land-use and transportation planning.
DelDOT and the county should work together to develop interconnectivity of the transportation system.
The county and DelDOT should work together to identify and develop “community focal points” (public gathering places) in the State Route 1 area where transit service could be more effectively and efficiently provided.
A system of variable message signs should be constructed along the State Route 1 corridor (perhaps beginning as far north as Dover) indicating traffic delays and alternate routes.
The county and towns should work together to improve the appearance of streets and sidewalks to encourage pedestrian mobility.
The recommendations are the product of discussions held earlier this year with state, county, and local officials, along with input provided at a seminar and public forum hosted by Delaware Sea Grant and the Greater Lewes Foundation on March 13.
The study’s final report has been distributed to the State Route 1 Public Advisory Committee, a joint Sussex County/DelDOT committee studying the Route 1 corridor between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
The report is available on-line at www.ocean.udel.edu/seagrant/MAS and at the public libraries in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. For more information, please contact Jim Falk, UD Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, at (302) 645-4235.