Route 1 task force makes recommendations

DelDOT revises safety plan for pedestrians, cyclists
State transportation officials want to add more pedestrian crossings in the Route 1 corridor. BY RON MACARTHUR
February 17, 2014

The promised report of a 14-member Route 1 Pedestrian Safety Task Force has been presented to state transportation and elected officials.

In its 27-page report, the task force lists several recommendations, including more street lighting; addition of six new handicapped-accessible crosswalks; continuous sidewalks from Five Points to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge; and the addition of bike-friendly rumble strips between through lanes and right-hand turn lanes to mark where motorists should enter the turn lane.

Task force offers recommendations

Among the task force recommendations are:

• Update all road striping to improve visibility and clarity for motorists and pedestrians.

• Encourage DelDOT to remove impediments such as utility poles, light poles and business signs along sidewalks.

• Evaluate road signage to reduce sign clutter while adding useful warning signs.

• Align bus stops with the new crosswalks and add seating at all bus stops.

• Reduce access points to Route 1 by considering reconfigurations of current access points and prohibiting new access points.

• Improve lighting along Route 1 between Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach in the area called the Forgotten Mile.

The task force also concluded that more education, enforcement and monitoring is needed to make cyclists aware they are permitted to ride on the sidewalks in the Route 1 corridor; increasing enforcement of speeding and jay-walking; and dedicating funds to the long-term maintenance of sidewalks and medians.

As a test, instead of traditional crosswalks, the task force calls for the use of two high-intensity activated crosswalks, or HAWK beacons, which are designed to cause less interruption time for cars.

Many recommendations have already been incorporated in Delaware Department of Transportation's $14.4 million Route 1 safety project, set to begin in the fall. DelDOT revised its original plan based on recommendations from the task force. In the most significant change, the number of crosswalks in the DelDOT plan was cut from 12 to six.

After three meetings seeking public input, the task force, chaired by House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, and DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt, also concluded that further study is needed to look at reducing the speed limit and more investment and collaboration is required to educate the public about pedestrian safety. Schwartzkopf said DelDOT should also look more closely at upgrades along Route 1 between Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach, known as the Forgotten Mile.

Schwartzkopf, a former Delaware state trooper, said he has seen a steady increase in traffic, increasing the danger to pedestrians and cyclists.

“The task force had to deal with the challenge of improving safety for pedestrians without causing huge traffic backups and working within the existing roadway,” he said.

State police records show 14 pedestrian or bicyclist injuries and five deaths have occurred in the past three years along Route 1 between the Nassau Bridge and the southern limits of Dewey Beach.

Project includes sidewalks, lighting

DelDOT will install six new handicapped-accessible crosswalks as well as sidewalks and more lighting in areas where pedestrian traffic is high. Bus stops will be relocated to coincide with crosswalks. Sidewalks will be ADA-compliant along both sides of the six-mile Route 1 corridor.

The initial proposal included 62 new lighting fixtures; DelDOT is now proposing 127 new streetlights. The lights will illuminate intersections, and lighting will be continuous from Midway to Old Landing Road, and from Sea Air Avenue and Bay Vista Road. Bhatt said the department would have liked to continuously illuminate all of Route 1, but that is too expensive.

To make the stretch of Route 1 safer for bicyclists, DelDOT plans to fortify the bicycle and bus lane on the far right-hand side of the ride with a rumble strip and a solid white line. There is currently only a dotted white line to separate the lane.

Working with DelDOT officials, the task force recommended adding crosswalks at the Route 1 intersections with Dartmouth Drive (Wawa), Old Landing Road (Atlantic Liquors), King Street (M&T Bank), Holland Glade Road (Tomato Sunshine), Rehoboth Avenue and Bay Vista Road. The only two existing Route 1 crosswalks between Five Points and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal are at Tanger Outlets Midway and Postal Lane at Movies at Midway.

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