It’s a tale told time and time again. People drive up and down Route 13, and believe they’ve been to Smyrna without actually turning off the highway.

It’s a tale told time and time again. People drive up and down Route 13, and believe they’ve been to Smyrna without actually turning off the highway.

The Town of Smyrna hopes to change that with the Route 13 Corridor Study. Town officials are working on the project in conjunction with the State Office of Planning, Delaware Department of Transportation, and the Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

For the state, the Route 13 Corridor Study will be a pilot program to see what Delaware can do to help other areas of the state, said Smyrna Town Manager Dave Hugg.

For Smyrna, the results of the project will hopefully give direction in how to integrate the highway as a part of the community, and enhance mobility and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“I think the fundamental issue here is that most Delaware towns are bisected by a road like U.S. 13, Route 1, or Route 113 that goes kind of through the middle of them,” Hugg said. “The idea is maybe we can come up with a way to address the changing role of those roads to make them feel more like and act more like part of the community while not necessarily diminishing their transportation importance.”

How will this study work?

Once the involved agencies sign the Memorandum of Agreement, the respective groups will be collecting data and trying to put together designs of how Route 13 from the Smyrna Rest Area to the Route 1 interchange south of town could be improved.

Meetings will be held with stakeholders of the project such as property owners, developers and state agencies. DelDOT in the meanwhile will take a look at Route 13 in Smyrna to get an idea of traffic volume and frequencies to better understand traffic in the area.

Then in August there will be a “charrette,” a collaborative design and planning workshop. The kickoff to this workshop will be Monday, Aug. 20 at the Smyrna Opera House. The workshops will take place Aug. 20 to 24, and are a chance for local residents and other stakeholders to come put their two cents in regarding Route 13.

The town hopes to have a graphic designer available at the workshops to draw out some of the suggestions so people can get a visual of what Route 13 would look like if it was heavily landscaped or if the zoning changed to allow buildings closer to the road.

“This would be helpful to get people to understand what some of the opportunities are,” Hugg said.

Smyrna Manager of Planning and Zoning Janet Vinc said once the charrette is done, they’re hoping to by years end have a design book to use for future development and recommendations for amendments to the zoning ordinance.

Why is this needed?

It is the hope of both Hugg and Vinc that the results of the project will help Smyrna find a community identity.

Vinc said the road basically divides the town in half and isn’t pedestrian friendly. Moreover, there’s nothing on Route 13 to encourage drivers to turn off the road and into town.

What could the results of this project be? Whatever the town decides in the process of the charrette whether it’s banners, more landscaping, bike paths or more.

“How many times do you hear the story that people don’t know there’s a town here,” Hugg said. “We’re trying to make Smyrna something more than a map dot.”

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