Western Sussex historic byway wins official designation from DelDOT

Georgetown, Del., March 23, 2010: The Western Sussex Scenic and Historic Byway is now on the map.

The Delaware Department of Transportation recently approved an application sponsored by Sussex County to create a scenic route on the western side of the county, a path that will link well-known and some not-so-well-known landmarks.

The goal of the byway effort is to showcase the area’s rich history and promote rural tourism.

“This route will be a great asset in driving people off the beaten path to find some of the cultural and historical gems that are right here in our county,” said C. Daniel Parsons, Sussex County’s Historic Preservation Planner. “This represents a lot of hard work from many talented and passionate individuals, and I want to thank each of them and the County Council for all of their support.

“This is a great opportunity for the citizens of Western Sussex County to continue to promote the wonderful historic and cultural resources that many in that area have worked so hard to preserve over the years,” Mr. Parsons said.

The route will extend approximately 35 miles in the area of the U.S. 13 corridor, snaking its way on existing back roads from Seaford to Bethel and Laurel, linking cultural and historic sites such as the Cannon-Maston House, Old Christ Church, Trap Pond State Park and other landmarks dotted along the way.

SussexCounty sponsored the application to DelDOT last fall, and used a series of community meetings with a citizens’ advisory group to help shape the course of the route. DelDOT and the University of Delaware also assisted in the project.

The byway designation in no way infringes on property owners along the pathway or their rights to develop, modify or sell their parcels. It would, however, limit the placement of billboards along the route and require transportation planners and engineers to design any future road improvements that are in keeping with the route's historic and scenic character, Mr. Parsons said.

Now with the byway designation in hand, federal funds will be sought to help draft a corridor management plan, a document that would identify ways to draw attention to the historical and cultural landmarks along the route. Ways to do that could include signage, brochures, and interpretive tours. Mr. Parsons expects that process to occur during the next three to five years.

For more information on the Western Sussex Scenic and Historic Byway, visit http://udspace.udel.edu/handle/19716/4238.