Are DelDOT's plans for Route 1 a done deal?

September 10, 2013

Are DelDOT’s plans for Route 1 a done deal?

Route 1 is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians – and for the drivers who try to avoid hitting them. On that much, just about everyone can agree.

Department of Transportation officials say part of the solution is 62 new streetlights and a total of 14 signaled crosswalks from Five Points south to Rehoboth Beach, a plan recently unveiled at a public meeting, where officials took public comment.

Just as those plans were unveiled, Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, called for a task force to develop a safety plan along almost the same corridor, adding Dewey Beach.

Schwartzkopf has already said 14 pedestri­an- activated crosswalks on Route 1 will create a traffic nightmare that will deter tourism; he’s clearly looking for an alternative to DelDOT’s plan. Even DelDOT officials say the cross­walks will delay traffic, but they say the cross­walks will have a traffic-calming effect.

Schwartzkopf and many other observers say the planned crosswalks could create gridlock and lead to more accidents.

DelDOT officials have also said publicly their $6.5 million plan for Route 1 is largely a done deal that’s not likely to be changed.

Meanwhile, the Cape Gazette has been call­ing for a serious effort to redesign Route 1, and Sussex Cyclists, a group extremely familiar with Route 1 hazards, has offered DelDOT of­ficials a series of highly doable ideas, starting with reducing the speed limit and changing the way shared lanes are painted and signed.

No matter. DelDOT appears set to proceed next spring with Band-Aid-style plans that so far appear out of touch with how motorists, pedestrians and cyclists would actually use the highway if it were safe.

Crosswalks or other means to cross are urgently needed on Route 1. But this plan displays government at its worst: spending public dollars on a plan that already appears inadequate for the needs and then holding public meetings to accept comment that is unlikely to produce any change in the plan.

Pedestrians, cyclists and motorists of the Cape Region deserve better.

  • 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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