As you may recall, Executive Order 36 was filed last summer, requiring State agencies to hold public suggestion sessions in order to remove potential log jams or out dated requirements or processes in State government. The goal is to improve the process whereby the public is serviced quicker, thus at less cost to them.
You, our membership, should be aware of the efforts of your Association, to better your business environment. Our Board of Directors authorized the following submission to DelDOT which was submitted earlier today:
To whom it may concern:
We want to take the opportunity to thank the State of Delaware for the opportunity to provide comments in conjunction with Executive Order 36, specifically as it relates to the Delaware Department of Transportation. We assembled a group of engineering consultants and home builders/developers and we have the following comments. Although we are providing a list of specific comments using your Comment Submission Form process, we would like to request a specific meeting with DelDOT to review the comments and discuss in more detail. As you know, there are a multitude of details associated with the regulatory process that cannot necessarily be summarized in a letter. The items below represent the broader issues, however, we can make a number of recommendations to improve the process.
We appreciate the steps DelDOT has taken to improve the entrance and plan review process. We are supportive of a defined submission process with predictable review dates as well as a consolidation of departmental reviews. We believe this process is good. However, there are a number of factors that are not allowing the process to be successful. As a result, the approval process takes longer and costs more.
- Department Coordination – There continues to be a disconnect between various sections within DelDOT and, in some cases, disagreement about various requirements. We recommend that there be a clear decision maker responsible for the entrance and subdivision review process. We recommend that the Planning Department have the final determination in cases of dispute among internal departments.
- Level of Review/Improvements – The review process now involves divisions of DelDOT previously only responsible to review DelDOT and federal funded highway projects. As a result, entrance plan reviews are being reviewed to the same level of criteria. We don’t believe that commercial entrances and subdivisions should be held to the same criteria as federally funded highways.
- 3. Traffic Impact Study (TIS) Requirement – DelDOT has recently implemented a Traffic Operational Analysis (TOA) requirement for projects that exceed 200 daily trips. It is our understanding that this study can be required when a project exceeds 200 trips per day but less than 400 trips per day. At 400 trips per day; a full TIS can be required. With the implementation of the TOA, we recommend that the threshold to require a TIS be increased. It is our understanding that the threshold was lowered to capture projects which may have a localized impact at major intersections but did not necessarily meet the warrants for a TIS. It would seem that the TOA now captures those scenarios and a lower threshold for a full TIS review is no longer necessary. Given the recent adoption of the TOA, we support an increase in the TIS warrant threshold.
- 4. Existing Failed Intersections – A developer should not be responsible for costs to improve an intersection beyond its existing condition but only to mitigate the additional traffic generated by their development.
- 5. Offsite improvements – We do not object to being responsible for improvements required to support development. However, the current process to determine off site improvements and contributions is lengthy, costly, and unpredictable. We support the elimination of signal agreements and the creation of an impact fee system to fund new signals and improvements at off site intersections. The impact fee should be collected at time of building permit. We believe the Transportation Improvement District (TID) process provides the mechanism for implementation of this system.
- 6. Storm Drain Design – We believe the storm drain design requirement within a subdivision is excessive and results in unnecessary costs. The current regulations effectively require design to the 25 year storm. We believe this is excessive and results in oversized storm drain and present challenges in flat terrain with shallow outfalls. We recommend the regulations be revised to utilize the 10 year design storm within subdivisions.
- 7. Grandfathering – We find that changes are required during the construction phase as a result of revised standards after DelDOT approves the project. As a result, developers are left with unforeseen extra costs. We recommend that the project be responsible to meet the standards in place at the time of approval all the way through the construction phase.
- 8. Duplicate Review – Currently, there are situations which result in DelDOT and DNREC reviewing stormwater management and erosion and sediment control. Duplicate reviews result in unnecessary cost and time. We recommend that only one agency be responsible to review these items.
The above items represent a few of the larger issues that we believe should be addressed. However, as previously mentioned we have a number of suggestions and would like to meet with representatives of DelDOT to discuss.