South Frederica Interchange construction begins

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From left, U.S. Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del); DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan; Gov. Jack Markell, Kent County Levy Court presdient Brooks Banta and Kent County administrator Mike Petit de Mange brweak ground Friday on the South Frederica Grade Separated Intersection project just south of Meding’s Seafood restaurant. The Chronicle/Dave Chambers

FREDERICA — With mounds of dirt, workers and machinery on the move, there’s no missing the multiple ongoing construction projects on both sides of Del. 1 in the Little Heaven area.

Another one with significant economic implications broke ground on Friday morning at host Meding’s Seafood restaurant.

At a cost of $18 million and projected to be completed by mid-2018, the South Frederica Interchange will provide convenient access off Del. 1 to the upcoming Kent County Regional Sports Complex that’s targeted for a 2017 opening.

Supporters believe the facility known as “DE Turf” can generate up to $30 million of economic impact annually in Kent County as a site for sports tournaments at its stadium, 10 turf and two grass fields on an 84-acre layout that’s tailored for visitors’ comfort and convenience.

Gov. Jack Markell, left, discusses the many benefits of investing our state’s highways and roads during the ground breaking ceremony along US13.  The Chronicle/Dave Chambers

Gov. Jack Markell, left, discusses the many benefits of investing our state’s highways and roads during the ground breaking ceremony along US13. The Chronicle/Dave Chambers

Traveling to the ceremony on Friday, Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan said she had to smile about seeing “construction on the left, construction to the right” that shows Delaware’s progress on additional infrastructure; regarding the complex, she was “so excited about being able to facilitate that.”

Levy Court Administrator Michael Petit de Mange highlighted the added safety an overpass will provide the area of Del. 1, along with it serving as a precursor for anticipated rapid growth just west of Del. 1. He believes the interchange will more easily allow vehicles to move goods in and around the region, and an already operating wastewater treatment plant makes the area an obvious site for commercial and residential expansion.

In a news release, the county administrator described the area as transitioning from “a rural to suburban landscape, (and) this new interchange will play a big role in the effective movement of people, goods and services.”

DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan gives her public relations officer Greg Layton a high-five handshake before her comments during the ceremony.  The Chronicle/Dave Chambers

DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan gives her public relations officer Greg Layton a high-five handshake before her comments during the ceremony. The Chronicle/Dave Chambers

Coming from Pennsylvania, Kent County Regional Sports Complex Corp. Executive Director Rob Smith Jr. saluted Delaware leaders for their “patience, fortitude, persistence and a lot of collaboration” for moving the project area forward in the past six or seven years.

“The ramp for the facility is a great thing,” he said, noting that he plans to move to Delaware and already has been warmly received in his future home state.

Mr. Smith touted the cooperation of DelDOT and said, “The first time I went to Levy Court I felt like I was home.”

Also, Mr. Smith said a hospitality committee will work with hotel and other business owners to identify characteristics of the thousands of consumers who will travel to the area once DE Turf debuts.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, referenced a combination of federal and state funding going toward the interchange, and believes a smoother-flowing, safer trip to Delaware’ beaches will keep tourists wanting to visit here “again, and again, and again.”

Noting the frequency of recent groundbreaking ceremonies, Gov. Jack Markell thanked Sen. Carper for being “the number one advocate in Washington for robust and sustainable investment in transportation …” even at his own political peril at times.

The interchange is being built by A-Del Construction; DelDOT said intermittent lane and shoulder closures in off-peak hours are needed, along with full road closures “for a short time.”

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com. Follow @DSNAnderson on Twitter.

Craig Anderson writes for the Delaware State News. Reach him at canderson@newszap.com

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