Work is expected to begin soon on Industrial Street in Millsboro, where stone depot Pioneer Materials plans to build a new facility.
A final site plan presented by Roger Gross, an engineer with Merestone Consultants in Rehoboth Beach, was narrowly approved by the Town Council earlier this month. The plan provides for an extension of town utilities to Pioneer’s future site and the closure of a side entrance to M&T Bank on Industrial Street.
Four council members voted in favor of the plan, one voted against it, and two abstained. Those leery of the plan are concerned about additional traffic caused by Pioneer’s trucks, which are expected to drive down Mitchell Street, just off Industrial Street, at least 175 times each day.
“I’m all for progress, but I just don’t want all this additional traffic,” said Councilwoman Irene Keenan, who voted against the plan. “That sounds like a lot of trucks to me, and I’m thinking about flying stones all over the place. I just think it’s a bad idea all the way around.”
Even though Keenan is opposed to the additional traffic, the town has already given Pioneer Materials conditional approval to build on the parcel, which is located east of the railroad tracks on Industrial Street. The conditional approval is pending the approval and completion of the proposed Industrial Street upgrades.
In an attempt to contain the expected truck traffic, the site plan proposed by Gross has Pioneer trucks turning left onto Mitchell Street. If the trucks turned right, they would have to travel through a part of town that already sees traffic congestion.
Signage directing truck drivers to turn left will be put into place, and Pioneer has agreed to “police” its drivers by providing constant reminders to turn left. However, Mayor Robert Bryan, who abstained from the vote, said he would like to see a type of barricade or egress curbing put in place to further deter the trucks from turning right.
“I can support the plan [if a barricade is in place],” Bryan said. “I still don’t like it; but I can support it.”
Gross said he would consult with Pioneer and the Delaware Department of Transportation regarding the barricade.
According to Linda Johnson, development coordinator for Millsboro, the town has a memorandum of understanding in place stating any changes in a road’s use, such as the addition of heavy truck traffic, must be approved by DelDOT, even if the road is located within town limits. Most of Mitchell Street is in Millsboro, however shortly after Pioneer’s trucks make a left, they’ll will exit the town’s municipal limits and begin traveling on a state-owned portion of the road.
Page 2 of 2 - Prior to being presented to the council, Gross’ plan received approval from DelDOT.
Taking this into consideration, Councilman Greg Hastings, who voted in favor of the plan, said it would be difficult to reject the proposal.
“Once traffic leaves town limits, we have no say in how it is controlled,” Hastings said. “We can’t make a decision to deny or reject an approval on something that’s outside of our jurisdiction.”
The council collectively expressed concerns regarding work that DelDOT will soon begin in the area of Mitchell Street that is outside of the town’s municipal limits. This work, they said, may cause even more congestion.
According to DelDOT’s Bryan Behrens, improvements to U.S. Route 113, the intersection of Dagsboro Road and U.S. Route 113, the intersection of Handy Road and U.S. Route 113, and the intersection of Dagsboro Road and Mitchell Street are anticipated to start in spring 2014.
Johnson said there’s no official start date for the work that was approved by the council. She said Gross will soon forward the town his plan so it can be signed off on and recorded.
After that, “I would think they’d want to start soon so Pioneer can [start building],” Johnson said. “I don’t see why Industrial Street improvements wouldn’t start this summer.”