U.S. 301 provides an alternate route to Baltimore for long distance travelers between Washington and northern Delaware, in addition to serving the Maryland Eastern Shore and interests between Wilmington and Middletown. Opened on January 10, 2019, U.S. 301 in New Castle County runs along a 11 mile long toll road from near Warwick, Maryland to Middletown and Delaware State Route 1 at Biddles Corner. The limited access highway runs along the west side of Middletown and then turns northeast across SR 71 south of Mount Pleasant and west of the Bayberry development. Interchanges along the route connect U.S. 301 with SR 299, SR 71 and Jamison Corner Road. All electronic toll (AET) gantries are located at each end and at the three interchanges along the expressway.
U.S. 301 Toll Road Exit Numbers:
- Exit 2 - State Route 299 - S. Middletown / Townsend
- Exit 5 - State Route 71 - N. Middletown
- Exit 9 - Jamison Corner Road
- Exit 147 - split from State Route 1 south
U.S. 301 Delaware Guides
Prior to completion of the U.S. 301 toll road, U.S. 301 entered the First State along a rural alignment into southwest Middletown. Bypassing Downtown Middletown and the adjacent street grid, U.S. 301 formed a commercial arterial with numerous big box stores and businesses along a four-lane stretch. North from Middletown, U.S. 301 combined with SR 71 along a two lane route through a mixture of agricultural areas and suburban housing tracts.
Once at Mount Pleasant, U.S. 301/SR 71 combined with SR 896 north from Boyds Corner Road. The three routes circled west by Summit Airport (EVY) along a four-lane alignment to SR 15, south of Summit Bridge. Summit Bridge comprises a high level steel thru truss bridge across the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to an area west of Lums Pond State Park. There SR 71 branches east and northward to Kirkwood and Red Lion.
The remainder of U.S. 301/SR 896 extended north along a four-lane divided highway with a wide grassy median. This stretch was originally proposed as a freeway, but widened as a surface roadway instead during the mid 1990s. The route culminates on the Glasgow bypass, where SR 896 separates from a business route (Glasgow Avenue) to the east. U.S. 301 ended at the intersection with U.S. 40, while SR 896 continues north to Iron Hill and Newark.
U.S. 301 History
The original route of U.S. 301 took the highway north from Bowie, Maryland along what is now MD 3. The US highway ended at U.S. 1 at Mt. Clare in west central Baltimore. The Eastern Shore alignment for U.S. 301 was initially marked as MD 71 in 1956. It formed a multi-state route with SR 71 in 1958, and was proposed to extend northeast to U.S. 40 near Bear.
U.S. 301 was rerouted east from Bowie along side U.S. 50 across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and along MD 71 northward in 1960. The new alignment ran north to Middletown where it partitioned into separate north and south branches.
U.S. 301 Freeway Proposals
Controversial and abandoned plans dating back to the 1960s called for a U.S. 301 freeway between the Maryland state line and Interstate 95. By 1992, options consisted of upgrading SR 896 to a freeway, building a new alignment west of Middletown along the ridge that separates the Chesapeake and Delaware Bay watersheds (known as the "Ridge Route"), and a new alignment northeast from Glasgow to the Delaware Turnpike at unbuilt Exit 2. These would tie into U.S. 301 in Maryland, which was already built with controlled access. Further upgrades of U.S. 301 along the Eastern Shore to an Interstate highway were however officially dropped in 1992.2
Corridors considered for U.S. 301 in Delaware until 19922:
- Upgrade of the existing SR 896 corridor to a freeway
- New alignment from Middletown to the SR 1 Turnpike
- New freeway west of Middletown to Summit Bridge (the Ridge Alternate) and two corridors northeast from Glasgow to Interstate 95
- New freeway near the Delaware/Maryland state line west of Middletown and Glasgow that utilizes the existing Summit Bridge - dropped in 1992
- Freeway bypass east of Middletown - dropped in 1992
Proposals for new alignments along the Maryland state line were deemed too detrimental to area wetlands and required too many stream crossings. The Middletown eastern bypass alternative was dropped due to the impact of important agricultural areas.2 The rest of the proposals remained unpopular with the exception of the option to widen SR 896 as an at-grade facility.
The Glasgow bypass was also scaled back, as it was initially planned as a limited access roadway with a full interchange at U.S. 40. Instead a compromise was made to build the bypass as a four-lane expressway with controlled access. A portion of the right of way acquired for the interchange was repurposed as part of Glasgow Park, a county facility developed in 2004.
In 1994, DelDOT again discussed ideas on how to address the growing traffic demands along U.S. 301 between the state line and I-95. The options considered included constructing a new 300-foot wide corridor between 15 and 19 miles, widening of the remaining two-lane sections of U.S. 301, and adding interchanges to existing SR 896. Cost estimates at the time included $200 million for property acquisition, environmental studies and highway construction.3
New corridors that were considered in the 1994 plan:3
- Northeasterly routes from U.S. 40 at Glasgow across SR 72 to Interstate 95
- Route west of Summit Airport
- "Ridge Alternate" to the west of Summit Bridge and Middletown
Officials in Dover could not reach an agreement on a solution for U.S. 301 in 1994, and all plans were subsequently dropped from consideration.4
The section of SR 896 between U.S. 40 (Pulaski Highway) and Interstate 95 was also planned as a full freeway until 1994. Opposition again surmounted as residents in and around Iron Hill expressed concern that the potential roadway would require too much real estate for a planned interchange at Old Baltimore Pike. DelDOT instead widened SR 896 into a controlled access arterial.
Other U.S. 301 proposals included adding a toll plaza at the state line. Funding woes resulting from a failed gas tax increase in 1996 spurred discussion for tolling the US highway. Adding tolls to U.S. 301 were also cited as a method to dissuade truckers from using the route as a long distance bypass of Interstate 95 and Baltimore.
New considerations for U.S. 301 in 1998 included expanding the highway with HOV-dedicated lanes, increasing bus service to Middletown and the planned Whitehall community, and the creation of two commuter light rail lines. The list of several options considered in 1998 include:
- New six-lane expressway for U.S. 301 from Maryland to Interstate 95
- Create rail lines between Middletown and Wilmington, and Newark to Wilmington by way of Bear
- New HOV-only lanes on Interstate 95, SR 1, and SR 896 between U.S. 40 and Interstate 95
- Widen existing U.S. 301 and SR 1
- Construct a no-exit express road from U.S. 301 at Middletown to SR 1
Toll road options in April 1998 were not considered and the six-lane freeway option was estimated to cost $205 million.4 A subsequent meeting held on U.S. 301 in August 1998 revised the 1994 plan for a new freeway to more public support. Other options reviewed included "smart traffic" solutions such as traffic signal coordination, other traffic control and the improvement of pedestrian and bicycle access. The HOV project received the least amount of public support.5
U.S. 301 Delaware Mileage: 14.93
U.S. 301 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Begin Milepost||From:||To:||AADT Composite|
|0.00||MD state line||SR 299||10,862|
|1.01||SR 299||Levels Road||36,854|
|3.62||Levels Road||Peterson Road||16,400|
|4.05||Peterson Road||SR 896 Mount Pleasant||25,112|
|7.42||SR 896 Mount Pleasant||Bethel Church Road||23,497|
|9.57||Bethel Church Road||SR 71||26,840|
|11.52||SR 71||U.S. 40 Glasgow (14.93)||31,782|
|Source: Delaware Vehicle Volume Summary 2014 (Traffic Summary)|
- Rahul; email, "DelDOT community relations officer regarding the suffixed versions of U.S. 301 and its relocation to Delaware 896 between Mt. Pleasant and Glasgow," June 2, 2000.
- "U.S. 301 planners cull options." The News Journal (DE), December 3, 1992.
- "Deadline nears for U.S. 301 plan." The News Journal (DE), October 16, 1994.
- "Big plans in store for U.S. 301." The News Journal (DE), April 29, 1998.
- "Road options are all over the map." The News Journal (DE), August 30, 1998.
- "DelDOT picks U.S. 301 bypass route." The News Journal (DE), November 14, 2006.
- "US 301 construction will begin in January." The News Journal (DE), November 13, 2015.
- "$89 million in US 301 contracts move forward." The News Journal (DE), February 3, 2016.
- "Start your engines: U.S. 301 toll road to open Thursday after morning rush hour." The News Journal (DE), January 10, 2019.
Page Updated 01-10-2019.