State transportation officials say long-awaited improvements to Route 1 crosswalks are on the way, along with additional sidewalks and improved lighting designed for pedestrian safety.
Several key projects in the Cape Region are on the Delaware Department of Transportation drawing board to occur within the next two years. At the top of the list is a pedestrian improvement project from Five Points to Rehoboth Beach set to start later this year. Right-of-way purchases are expected to be completed this summer.
The project has several phases geared toward safety including filling gaps to provide sidewalks on both sides of the highway between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, additional lighting along the highway and more signalized pedestrian crossings along Route 1, especially in the area of the Tanger Outlets.
At the request of Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, during council's Feb. 5 meeting Delaware Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Natalie Barnhart offered an overview of upcoming work in Sussex County.
In 2012, three pedestrians were killed while crossing Route 1, including Scott Emory, 33, and Cheryl Dunn-Winchester, 28, of Rehoboth Beach over Labor Day weekend, hit by a car as they attempted to cross Route 1 near the Route 24 intersection.
“It was determined that the majority of crashes occurred at night in unlit conditions,” Barnhart said. “In addition, over half of the crashes occurred when pedestrians tried to cross Route 1 mid block.”
She said DelDOT's work aims at alleviating those situations.
From October 2009 to October 2012, seven pedestrian crashes were reported along the Route 1 corridor, said Geoff Sundstrom, DelDOT spokesman.
Currently, there are two signalized pedestrian crosswalks from Five Points to Bay Vista that will expand to 12 more crossings at the following intersections: Route 9; Dartmouth Drive; Route 24; Rehoboth Mall Boulevard; Old Landing Road; Munchy Branch Road; Camelot Drive; Sea Air Avenue; Holland Glade Road; Shuttle Road; Route 1A; and Bay Vista.
New traffic signals are planned for the Holland Glade intersection and for southbound traffic at Route 1A, the entrance to Rehoboth Beach, to allow for a pedestrian crossing.
The pedestrian safety project will cost $10.3 million, which includes $1.8 million for the purchase of rights of way.
At the request of Sussex Cyclists, Barnhart said a committee of police, transportation officials and bicycle advocates would look for ways to improve cycling safety along the Route 1 corridor.
She said a recent study of crashes involving bicycles showed that between October 2009 and October 2012 the majority of crashes between Five Points and Rehoboth Beach involved cyclists going in the wrong direction.
Residents will have to wait a little longer for the realignment of Cedar Grove Road and Postal Lane where the roads intersect Plantation Road. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2014 and continue into the summer months. Barnhart stressed there would be no lane closures on Plantation Road or Postal Lane. “This will improve safety by eliminating the jog in the existing alignment,” she said.
Separate left-turn, through and right-turn lanes will be added to each side of the intersection to decrease rear-end collisions and the number of drivers passing stopped traffic on shoulders. The project will also include bicycle lanes and sidewalks in the area of the intersection.
The project will cost $8.8 million, which includes $2.8 million for the purchase of rights of way.
At the request of residents, Barnhart said, transportation officials are looking at two other intersections in the Cape Region to determine if changes in traffic patterns are needed. DelDOT will collect traffic volume data this summer at an unsignalized crossover of Route 1 at Bay Crossing near Midway. A motorcyclist was killed at the intersection last August.
A study is under way to determine if a traffic signal is warranted at the Route 1-Minos Conaway intersection – which has no signal – just past the Nassau bridge.
An overpass project is under way at the Route 1-Route 30 intersection south of Milford. The project will replace the existing at-grade intersection with a grade-separated intersection with improvements to Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road. Construction is under way and expected to be completed late this year or in early 2014.
It was July 26, 2011, at this intersection where 10-year-old Lilly Barnett of Milton was seriously injured. Her long road to recovery has captured the hearts of people in the Cape Region.
In the Cape Region, work will start this year on three intersection improvement projects along Route 9; work will conclude on the demolition of the old Indian River Inlet bridge; overhead lighting has been placed at the Route 1-Cave Neck Road intersection; and design work will continue on several projects along the Route 24 corridor as funding is available.