Glad the state addressing Forgotten Mile

November 29, 2013

It was great to see the Gazette article outlining recent meetings on the traffic situation. Importantly and even as the Route 1 issues north of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal were being addressed, traffic below the canal, including the Forgotten Mile, was not being ignored.

However, how the Forgotten Mile would be handled seemed to be up in the air. Pete Schwartzkopf advocated flashing signs while Secretary Bhatt indicated that they alone would not do the trick; that heavy enforcement was also needed.

I tend to agree with Secretary Bhatt. Flashing signs without enforcement will eventually become ineffective. However I hate to think of the area being enforced like Bethany Beach. Although I do advocate lower speeds and higher fines, I don’t view high fines as being the best primary deterrent.

The unfortunate truth is that the Forgotten Mile was engineered to move as many cars as fast as possible from the canal to Dewey without much regard to the higher natural speed such a road invites. The wide, straight, flat road will always attract speeding. So if the goal is to slow traffic, the state will need to address the design problem.

By using stronger traffic calming strategies, such as raised crosswalks or an additional traffic light timed to break traffic flow, a design issue is addressed with a design solution. Philadelphia is currently testing an interesting solution to a similar problem. Speed sensors embedded in the road detect faster speeds and cause traffic lights to turn red. Signs warn drivers that their speed will cause the light to change.

Were such a system used on the Forgotten Mile, a sensor by Ann Avenue would trigger the lights at Bayard Avenue (southbound) or Spring Lake Drive (northbound). Signage should cause drivers to slow sooner, but if they don’t the lights certainly will.

In addition, devices that passively change behavior are less aggravating to tourists than tickets and leave more money for them to spend on local business as opposed to traffic court. This is the successful argument made by local Dewey businessmen when they installed barriers to illegal parking.

Finally, traffic calming devices provide a 24/7/365 solution and they should be cheaper than the additional police resources needed for effective enforcement.

In the end this is a dangerous stretch of road and I am glad that the state is addressing it.

D. Lee McCreary

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