Construction on the new Route 301 begins
Construction for the U.S. Route 301 Mainline project began on Friday.
Over the next two years, a new four-lane highway using electronic tolling will be created. It will extend northeast from the Maryland-Delaware state line, just west of Middletown, up to Route 1, north of the Biddles Corner Toll Plaza.
For decades, Delaware officials have talked about rebuilding 301 to reduce the high level of traffic congestion in Middletown, largely caused by trucks trying to get to Route 1.
DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan says the project will address longstanding traffic concerns in the Middletown area.
“This is been a high traffic accident area with both crashes and fatalities, so that’s the number one thing," said Cohan. "The second thing is that it will reduce traffic congestion. A lot of trucks go through Middletown and this will alleviate that as well.”
Cohan’s department expects that the new 301 Mainline will reduce traffic in at least 20 percent on more than half of Delaware’s roadways.
The $470 million project took over ten years to finance. The federal government is chipping in $211 million n the form of a low-interest loan.
Middletown Mayor Ken Branner expects to see a tremendous economic gain to his community as a result of the project.
“It also allows us to reinforce the manufacturing industrial park on the west side, get more companies in, more permanent jobs and additional construction jobs," said Branner. "So it’ll benefit the residents really well.”
Officials estimate that the project will employ 5,200 in construction and 2,400 in supporting industries.
The new Route 301 Mainline is expected to be finished by December 2018.