Learn about how the construction of U.S. 301 will impact commuting in Southern New Castle County starting next month. Also, the project's timeline, possible job opportunities, and upcoming information sessions.

The new alignment of U.S. Route 301, one of Delaware’s biggest and most expensive highway projects, will break ground early next month.

According to DelDOT, the new four-lane toll highway is expected to ease traffic congestion in the area, make travel safer by greatly reducing the number of trucks using local roadways and supporting economic development in southern New Castle County.

The $470 million mainline project is expected to be completed by December 2018 and open by June 2019, but there are many other pieces of information that residents should know about including construction timelines, road closures, job opportunities and more.

Construction timelines

Section 1

Construction of the new U.S. 301 mainline will take three years to be completed and has been divided into three sections.

Section 1 construction will take place north of Middletown at Del. Route 1 just south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, and south and west to Marl Pit Road at the Norfolk Southern Railroad.

DelDOT has already awarded one of four Section 1 construction contracts. Contract 1A – worth $69.8 million – was awarded last month to Cherry Hill Construction, a subsidiary of the New York-based Tutor Perini Corp. The company will begin work next month and will finish by June 2019.

Contract 1A includes new highway construction from just east of St. Georges Technical High School, westward below Hyetts Corner Road to Ratledge Road then south to Boyds Corner Road. Ramp tolls will be located at what will be called, the Jamison Corner Road Interchange (near where Jamison Corner Road and Hyetts Corner Road are currently located).

Section 1 will also include Contract 1B, which hasn’t been awarded to a company yet, but includes the construction of the “flyover” bridge ramp from Del. Route 1 to the start of the new U.S. 301, adjacent to the Village of Scott Run. Work is scheduled to begin in May and end in Sept. 2018.

Contract 1C, which hasn’t formally been awarded yet, will require construction of the highway from Boys Corner Road south to the Norfolk Southern Railroad, just north of Marl Pit Road. That work is scheduled to begin February and be completed by June 2018.

Contract 1D hasn’t been put out for bids yet, but will include road improvements for U.S. Route 13 south of Port Penn Road. The work is scheduled to begin in May and be completed by June 2018 as well.

Section 2

Construction of Section 2 of the project will take place north, west, and south of the Town of Middletown.

One of two construction contracts – Contract 2A – has been awarded to the Pennsylvania-based Allan Myers Construction. The estimated $100 million contract includes construction of the north Middletown interchange, ramp tolls and the highway from near north Marl Pit Road (west of the Norfolk Southern Railroad) and south (almost along Choptank Road) to Levels Road. This portion of the construction is scheduled to start next month and be completed by June 2019.

Contract 2B has not been put out for bids yet, but includes improvements to Summit Bridge Road and Armstrong Corner Road. Construction is scheduled to start Jan. 2017 and end by Aug. 2018.

Sections 3 and 4

Section 3 has one contract only which hasn’t been awarded yet. The work will include construction of the south Middletown interchange just west of Levels Road, as well as ramp tolls, and the mainline all the way south to the Maryland-Delaware line.

Construction of Section 3 is scheduled to begin in March and be completed by June 2018.

DelDOT also has plans to build a spur road (Section 4) west of the Norfolk Southern Railroad in the future, but funds for that phase of the project haven’t been secured yet.

For a map of the project, click here.

For an animated version of what the new U.S. 301 will look like, click here.

Road closures: Short term

There are a number of roads in the area that will face short and long term closures during the three-year project.

According to DelDOT, the road closures are needed to facilitate hauling operations and bridge/flyover construction. Signed detour routes will be provided at all closures to help drivers find alternative routes to their destinations.

Short term closures at portions of U.S. Route 13 and Del. Route 1 will take place mostly in the overnight, off-peak hours and may consist of reducing the number of lanes that would be open to vehicles.

The full list of short term closures is as follows:

-Del. Route 1 at the U.S. 301 “flyover” bridge (near the Village of Scott Run),

-U.S. Route 13 between South St. Georges and Hyetts Corner Road,

-Summit Bridge Road (Del. Route 71) at the new U.S. 301 overpass (just north of Marl Pit Road),

-Boyds Corner Road at the new U.S. 301 overpass,

-Port Penn Road left turn lane unto southbound U.S. Route 13,

-Warwick Road at the intersection with existing U.S. 301,

-Armstrong Corner Road at the new U.S. 301 overpass,

-Marl Pit Road between existing U.S. 301 and the railroad crossing.

Road closures: Long term

Some roads will face long term closures that could last anywhere from 11 to 36 months. Some of these roads will be open to local neighborhood traffic only. They are as follows:

-Hyetts Corner Road at the new U.S. 301 underpass (closed for 36 months),

-Strawberry Lane at the new U.S. 301 underpass (closed for 12 months),

-Middleneck Road at the intersection with existing U.S. 301 (closed for 11 months),

-Airmont Drive and Hyetts Corner Road (closed for 36 months).

Job opportunities

At a U.S. Route 301 information session held by DelDOT in Middletown on Dec. 9, Javier Torrijos, the construction manager for the U.S. 301 Mainline Project, said that the multi-million dollar construction will require hundreds of workers.

“We have big contractors that are bringing in folks and that will be hiring local labor as well,” Torrijos said. “So, we expect a big workforce for this project. You figure, we have over $400 million worth of work that we have to complete in roughly three years so it’s going to amount to a lot of labor.”

Positions may open up for regular labor, concrete finishers, iron workers and others. There may also be positions for consultants and inspection staff for each part of the project, Torrijos added.

People interested in getting a job in the project’s construction should contact the contractors directly after the project has broken ground. Earlier in this article it was mentioned that the two contractors who have been awarded bids are Allen Myers Construction and Tutor Perini Corp.

There are also five other contracts that DelDOT will be putting out for bid in the next few weeks or months. The names of the companies awarded those contracts will be made public as soon as possible to let people know who they can contact for jobs, Torrijos explained.

Information sessions

Almost 300 people attended the U.S. 301 project event last week in Middletown, said DelDOT Community Relations Officer Kenneth Cimino.

Similar construction informational meetings will be held bi-monthly starting in February by the department to keep residents abreast of the construction progress, updates, any delays or problems, and detour information.

The meetings will also give people an opportunity to ask questions or seek more information.

U.S. 301 Project Manager Mark Tudor lives in Middletown and has been working on the project since 2005. He said that there are still a couple of properties on the path of the project that the state needs to purchase, but that he is confident that the deals will come through.

“We have the properties to start construction. This project is something that is definitely going to happen. We have the financing and everything in place,” Tudor said.

As for those in the community who had expressed concern about noise and air pollution from their proximity to the project, Tudor said that DelDOT has held meetings with the affected communities to discuss their concerns. And, that the project has also gone through the required state and federal studies and review processes regarding any guidelines for noise and air pollution.

“The Federal Highway Administration has said that we have a project that is buildable and permitable and that is how we’re starting construction in January,” Tudor added.

For Torrijos, the reality that the project is just weeks away from breaking ground, has been years in the making.

“We’re very excited. One thing we enjoy is building and when it comes to major highways like this, it takes a great team. We have a lot of the same players that help build SR 1 also in the 301 Project. This is a wonderful opportunity that is going to improve traffic through this whole corridor and we’re ready to deliver,” Torrijos said.

For a map of the project, click here.

For an animated version of what the new U.S. 301 will look like, click here.

For more detailed information on the project from DelDOT, click here.