Locals south of Dover can also avoid Route 1 with service roads.

With the completion of a $44 million intersection project south of Dover Air Force Base, state leaders said a new overpass and the elimination of traffic signals should make traveling on Route 1 safer for tourists and locals alike.

Gov. John Carney, members of the General Assembly and Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan cut the ribbon for the Route 1 Little Heaven intersection project Tuesday morning.

While Carney said the planning for the project has been in the works for 16 years, workers officially broke ground in November 2015. A main feature of the project is a bridge that carries Route 1 traffic over Bowers Beach Road.

This bridge, which opened in March, replaces an intersection where 75 crashes occurred over a three-year study, according to DelDOT director of community relations C.R. McLeod.

“It’s really about making the highway safe,” Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said in her remarks at the ribbon cutting. “I’m thrilled to see the positive impact of this project, as well as all of the recent projects DelDOT has successfully completed, to make Delaware stronger and healthier.”

The project also frees up gridlocked traffic by eliminating a total of seven intersections along Route 1. Now, travelers can continue without stopping by using ramps, and locals can completely avoid Route 1 with two new service roads.

DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan said the elimination of traffic signals eases the flow of traffic.

“For people traveling along Route 1, frustrating and time-consuming backups at lights along Route 1 in Kent County are now a thing of the past. We look forward to continuing similar improvements statewide,” Cohan said.

In addition to safety and ease of travel, Carney spoke about how projects like this one can attract new businesses and create more jobs for Delawareans.

“One of the biggest challenges that we face as a state today, [for] the companies I talk to and the business folks, is getting the skilled workers that they need to do the work that is available out there,” Carney said

Hall-Long also commented on how the state used all local contractors to complete the project, such as the lead contractor A-Del Construction, Inc. of Newark.

As District 16 Sen. Colin Bonini took the podium, he thanked the local residents for their patience and jokingly pointed out what he viewed as the best part of the project.

“The bottom line is it’s now a lot easier to get to Magnolia Diner, and that’s what this is really about,” Bonini said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Several speakers, including project manager Craig Blowers, joined Bonini in discussing the importance of the project for community members, especially when it comes to avoiding beach traffic.

“It makes it easy for people to get to the beach and easy for locals to get around,” Blowers said.