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Delmarva’s Highways

Public Transportation is nearly non-existence on the Delmarva Peninsula. People and companies depend of the roads and highways to move throughout the region.

Other than I 95 and a few short interstate routes in around the City of Wilmington in Northern New Castle County, there isn’t an Interstate Highway on Delmarva. Delmarva’s Highways system is largely based on US designated highways and state routes.

The first US Highway System was developed in the early 1920s and approved in 1926. From this beginning came a couple of the major highways on the peninsula. Highways have their mile post numbered from south to north and from west to east.

The major one would be US 13, which runs from Cape Charles, Virginia, through the center of the Virginia’s Eastern Shore, running through Maryland and then through Delaware and into Pennsylvania. It’s the only highway that runs the full north/south distance of the peninsula and could easily be considered Delmarva’s Main Street.

In 1926 Cape Charles was US 13’s southern terminus. Since then it has been extended across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel into Norfolk, Virginia with its current southern terminus or beginning point since mile zero is the southern point of a North/South highway, being in Northeastern North Carolina.

Two others highways US 113 and US 213 were established as ‘daughter’ highways to US 13 in 1926. US 113 runs its full distance on Delmarva running from Pocomoke City, Maryland to Dover, Delaware. In Delaware it’s the east coast highway and helps to take many to Delaware’s Atlantic beaches.
US 213 was an original designated highway, but it has changed many times throughout its life until finally in 1972 lost it US Highway designation. Still as MD 213 it’s a major route across the Northern Eastern Shore counties of Queen Anne’s, Kent and Cecil.

When US 213 was first established it ran from Ocean City, Maryland running through Maryland’s Eastern Shore as its major route to Elkton, Maryland. The first change for US 213 came in 1936 after the opening of a new drawbridge over the Choptank River at Cambridge.

The original route had it running from Easton through Rhodesdale, Hurlock and Preston to Vienna. This part of old US213 became MD331.

The biggest change for US 213 came in 1949 after it was announced that a bridge would be built to cross the Chesapeake Bay between Sandy Point and Kent Island. US 50, which ended at Annapolis, was extended across the bay. MD 404 from Kent Island to Wye Mills where it meet US 213 and US 213 from Wye Mills to Ocean City became part of US 50 running from the Atlantic in Ocean City to the Pacific in San Diego, California.

Another of the Highways that has been extended onto the Delmarva Peninsula is US 9. In 1926 US 9 began at Absecon, New Jersey. Six years later in 1932 it was moved to Cape May, New Jersey. In 1979 US 9 crossed the mouth of the Delaware River, not by a bridge but through the Lewes-Cape May Ferry. Currently the southern terminus for US 9 is in Laurel, Delaware running nearly 30 miles from there to Lewes through Georgetown, Sussex County Seat.

US 301 also was one of the original 1926 highways and it too has been rerouted to the Delmarva Peninsula. In 1960 the northern terminus was moved from Baltimore when the highway was rerouted beginning at Bowie, Maryland, joining US 50 to cross the Chesapeake Bay. These two highways separated in Queenstown at what is known as the 50/301 split or sometimes simply as ‘the split’.

US 301 continues through Queen Anne’s, Kent and Cecil counties entering Delaware just south of Middletown in New Castle County. In Middletown it joins with Delaware route 896 and ends when it meets US 40 in Glasgow.

Two other US Highways touch upon soils of the Delmarva. US 40 runs across Northern New Castle County and into Cecil County. US 1 cuts through the western part of Cecil County in its route from Florida to Maine.

Taking a trip by following one of these highways can be like taking a trip through history. Just taking a ride can be in itself an enjoyable trip and peaceful one. One where you can simply think about those that have traveled the roads or to see the history of the towns and villages that the highway runs through.

Originally published in the Summer 2009 Newsletter

© 2009 and Steven G. Atkinson
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