Route 1 task force must think big

July 10, 2013

For Delaware’s Cape Region, one of the final actions taken by Delaware’s General Assembly before it closed July 1 was one of its most important.

At the urging of House Speaker and 14th District Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, the General Assembly agreed to set up a task force to study and recommend action to stem the epidemic of pedestrian and bicyclist inju­ries and deaths along our main street, Route 1, between Lewes and Dewey Beach.

The summer is just reaching its peak weeks, and there have already been several deaths and critical injuries along Coastal Highway.

There are lots of reasons. Drunk drivers.

Drunk cyclists and pedestrians. Vacationers unfamiliar with the perils of the highway.

Insufficient signalized pedestrian crossovers.

Inadequate lighting in high pedestrian and bicycling areas. Constant distractions for drivers, many of them from out of the area, through this heavily commercialized highway. Inadequate enforcement by stretched police resources. Certainly the task force will find more problems to add to the list.

Ultimately the task force needs to come up with funding for a multiyear master plan that will give this commercial area of the Coastal Highway the attention it deserves as one of Delaware’s major shopping attractions. That plan should include the kind of safety and aesthetic components that show real pride, concern and recognition that Coastal High­way with its many entertainment venues is a major part of the beach resort experience and a major economic driver for Delaware.

The time for band-aids is long past. A more com­prehensive and serious approach is in order and overdue.

Schwartzkopf’s task force is a good first step, and the speaker of the House is well positioned to initiate a serious plan that can make a real difference. It’s wonderful that our beaches have again earned national recogni­tion for their quality and cleanliness.

But if we can’t ensure the safety of our visitors and residents as they make their way back and forth to the beaches, shopping and entertain­ment, we will be falling far short in our efforts to be a national-caliber resort area.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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