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West Dover Connector on track to improve mobility around state capital

By next summer, commuters will have a new way of getting from U.S. Route 13 to North Street in Dover.

The West Dover Connector is a project Delaware’s Department of Transportation has envisioned for the last 15 years, according to Mark Buckalew, DelDOT’s resident engineer. It starts at U.S. Route 13 and Charles Polk Road and ties in to the intersection of Salisbury Road and West North Street — about 3.2 miles long.

“The purpose of this project is to take traffic to go from West Dover, connect them over to Route-13 and SR-1 without going through the City of Dover limits,” Buckalew said.

Buckalew said the project goes through the wetlands at Puncheon Run, an environmentally sensitive area. DelDOT cleared a number of environmental hurdles in order make the project happen without destroying the wetlands. They put wood timbers down to clear the trees so they could place geotextile fabric on top of the ground. They also placed stone down in the area where they are constructing a bridge over New Burton Road and Norfolk Southern Railroad Tracks to avoid disturbing the ground.

DelDOT sought approval of a wetland access plan from Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to ensure the connector trail would not negatively affect Puncheon Run.

“We’ve gone through using a lot of innovations, using compost logs to help reduce impacts to the environment,” Buckalew said. “We had a lot of submittals to go through to make sure EPA, DNREC are comfortable with how we’re going to construct a bridge through the wetlands of Puncheon Run.”

That bridge is one of the last major pieces of the project to be completed.  

Buckalew said the $32 million project has moved along smoothly. He expects it to be open by summer 2017.

“The expected outcome is to get traffic through the City of Dover a lot more quickly and without all the gridlock that goes on through the City of Dover,” Buckalew said.

A 3.2 mile shared use path will run alongside the entire West Dover Connector from Brecknock Park to Schutte Park. The path will allow for walking and biking, providing an alternative mode of transportation for the community.

“Part of its goal is to make sure everyone can get from point A to point B whether its by car, bike or by walking,” Buckalew said. “The shared use path helps in that regard.”

The shared use path can also be considered a part of a larger push for better air quality in the First State, he said.

“Anytime you can get people to walk or bike instead of using a car, you’re saving our air quality,” Buckalew said. “Multi-modal transportation is part of our [goal] to provide that for the public, and the shared use path helps accomplish that goal.”

The project's cost is just under $32 million, with the state paying only 20 percent of that figure.

There have been single lane closures on US-13 and West North St. during construction of the connector.

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