DOVER — A new study outlining how to maximize the potential between two of Kent County’s premiere industrial parks recommended a combined $17.7 million in road improvements.The Dover Air Cargo Freight Access Study,prepared by Century Engineering, studied possible transportation improvements between the Garrison Oak Technology Park and the Central Delaware Aviation Complex, bordered by Route 9 and Bay Road. Recommendations primarily focus on extending Horsepond Road from the Central Delaware Aviation Complex to Garrison Oak and expanding Starlifter Avenue to South Little Creek Road (Route 8).
[caption id="attachment_214659" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Central Delaware Aviation Complex| PHOTO BY ERIC CROSSAN[/caption]
Other recommendations focused on expanding Horsepond Road and Lafferty Lane, creating a new connector at Fox Run as well as constructing a bridge or a culvert. Right now, there is no direct access to either site from U.S. Route 1, and truck drivers have to navigate a series of small lanes and residential roads.“There's a good regional highway network in place, but it’s that last-mile connection to Route 1 that is not so great,” Century Engineering Project Manager Ted Parker told the Dover/Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)’s technical advisory committee on Tuesday. “With better connections between the two parks, it can foster some economic continuity, a kind of synergy between the two parks and make it more attractive for future businesses.”Kent County and Dover officials have high hopes for Garrison Oak, a Dover-owned, 390-acre industrial park just north of White Oak Road, and the Central Delaware Aviation Complex, a proposal to develop the northern edge of the Dover Air Force Base, to jumpstart the region’s economy. But the lack of direct access to Route 1 has become a major drawback to potential clients.Garrison Oak was built when Dover officials were courting microchip manufacturers that eventually did not come to Delaware. The site is home to German flooring company Uzin Utz, Advantech Security and a solar field, but still features 10 vacant lots, each between 10 and 14 acres in size and valued at $15,000 apiece.“Access to the interstate is the biggest issue, and otherwise, it’s fully equipped and shovel-ready. We’ve shown it to a number of firms that have shown interest but somehow not quite ready to bite the bullet,” Dover Director of Planning and Inspections Dave Hugg said last week.Meanwhile, the Central Delaware Aviation Complex — previously named the Civil Air Terminal — is 20 acres and already serves NASCAR drivers and Firefly performers flying into town. But a new agreement to allow two times as many landings and takeoffs could open new doors to air cargo flights to Kent County.The Dover/Kent MPO as well as county and city officials commissioned the study as a way to find ways to get trucks off the narrow residential backroads and to boost each site’s marketability.
[caption id="attachment_214575" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] A brief overview of the proposed road improvements and extensions in the greater Dover area to connect Garrison Oak and the Central Delaware Aviation Complex. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DOVER AIR CARGO FREIGHT ACCESS STUDY[/caption]
Proposed road improvementsChief of the recommendations include Horsepond Road from Garrison Oak, which runs parallel to Route 1 through to South Little Creek. Century Engineering also recommended creating a new intersection about 600 feet from the North Little Creek Road interchange with Route 1. Fox Run would also require a new intersection with Horsepond Road to mitigate traffic. With some wetlands north of South Little Creek, the engineering firm also recommended a culvert or a bridge.The existing Horsepond Road would also have to be widened, as it currently has two 11-foot lanes and shoulders that vary in width up to 3 feet. Lafferty Lane will also need to be widened, particularly at its intersections with Horsepond Road and South Bay Road. This will allow safer travel to and from the Central Delaware Aviation Complex to Route 1 and Route 13.Finally, the report recommends extending Starlifter Drive from Galaxy Drive to South Little Creek.A new Route 1 interchange was not recommended by Century Engineering because there were no feasible options that met spacing requirements. Even if those requirements were waived, a new interchange would be too expensive for the minimal impact it would have, because the existing interchange at South Little Creek and a ramp via Bay Road handle traffic.What’s NextThe Dover/Kent MPO Council is set to discuss the report and make recommendations on Sept. 1. After that, the report will then be sent to Kent County Levy Court for review. The final recommendations would then be adopted in the Dover/Kent MPO’s Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which identifies the region’s long-term transportation needs over the last 20 years.Only then can the Delaware Department of Transportation would include it in the six-year capital transportation program. Each phase of the road improvements would also require a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) study.