Savannah Road work on tap this spring, summer

New water infrastructure, roadway planned
The Department of Transportation is planning to resurface Savannah Road in Lewes this summer. They abandoned plans to add bike lanes on the beach side of the canal due to results from recent tests. BY NICK ROTH
April 14, 2014

The Department of Transportation will resurface Savannah Road in Lewes this summer, but officials are waiting for the Lewes Board of Public Works to upgrade water lines before doing the work.

Sandy Roumillat, DelDOT spokeswoman, said the project is scheduled to begin for this early to mid summer. Crews will work overnight, replacing the roadway from the train tracks at the edge of the city to Lewes Beach, about a 1.5-mile stretch. Work will begin with sidewalk ramps built to ADA standards then continue with paving.

Darrin Gordon, BPW general manager, said his department is aware of DelDOT's timeline and is working to complete an infrastructure project in advance. With a new $1.3 million drinking water treatment facility up and running, Gordon said, his focus has turned to improving water quality. To do so, he said, the BPW will replace old water mains throughout the city. During his budget proposal in February, Gordon described the existing water system as an “80-year-old man with a hip replacement hobbling down the street about to fall over.” Tackling main replacement along Savannah Road will go a long way in improving water quality, he said.

“This is his spine and we're going to get rid of the scoliosis, then we'll work on the rest of it,” he said.

The problem stems from Lewes' growth over the years. As homes were added to the system, new water mains were put in the ground. Some homes, though, were never connected to the new mains and still use 80-year-old infrastructure. The result is dirty water in some homes, he said.

An annual line of $150,000 has been budgeted for water main replacement and renewal over the next five years.

Bike lane project scrapped

Along with the resurfacing project, DelDOT had been considered adding bike lanes on the half-mile stretch of Savannah Road from the canal bridge to the beach. Roumillat said studies show the plan is not feasible.

“Core samples were just completed in the shoulder area and the pavement section is not up to DelDOT standards to shift travel lanes and accommodate the bike lanes,” she said.

Core samples are taken to determine the depth and make up of the road bed, she said. It shows the different layers of the roadway, specifically if it has been repaved or had overlay or microsurfacing work done.

Lewes' Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Committee recently supported a plan to shift the roadway toward the marsh to accommodate five-foot bike lanes each direction.

Roumillat said the plan the Lewes committee supported was only conceptual and prepared by a consultant. The city and consultant were recently notified the project would not move forward, she said.

And because the road is state-maintained, there is nothing the city can do.

"We can kind of whine about it, but that's about it," Mayor Jim Ford joked.

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