A $57 million project, expected to take nearly three years, will improve four miles of Route 26 – Atlantic Avenue – west of Assawoman Canal near Bethany Beach.
While preliminary work – including the relocation of 240 utility poles – started last year, work on the roadway started only recently.
The project will widen the existing two-lane road west of Bethany Beach to include two 11-foot travel lanes with 5-foot shoulder/bike lanes and a 12-foot wide shared center left-turn lane. More than 230 entrance/exit points along the road will be improved.
Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt, elected officials, construction team representatives and advisory group members attended a March 13 project briefing to discuss particulars of the project. Officials stressed the public will be well informed as roadwork progresses. “We want to get ahead of issues and not repeat mistakes from the past,” Bhatt said.
George & Lynch, based in Dover, is the general contractor. Executive Vice President Chris Baker said 11 southern Delaware companies have already been signed on as sub-contractors.
DelDOT has agreed to a day and night schedule designed to minimize traffic delays. Restrictions will be placed on shoulder and lane closures during the peak tourist season.
The federal government is funding 80 percent of the project.
Markell stressed the importance of adding more money to the state's transportation trust fund; he's supporting a 10-cent increase in the state's gas tax. “Everyone wants bigger and better roads, but no one wants to pay for it,” he said.
He said investing in improved roads aids in attracting tourists to the state, adding that congestion on roads could deter visitors.
He said neighboring states are choosing to invest large sums of money in their transportation infrastructure. “Tourists have choices,” Markell said.
“It's math, not politics,” Markell said. “If we don't have the money, we can't continue to do these types of project. We want to be the place people come to visit and live,” he said.
Widen the existing two lanes to:
Two 11-foot travel lanes with 5-foot shoulder bike/pedestrian lanes
A 12-foot continuous shared center left-turn lane
5-foot sidewalks from Windmill Road to Asssawoman Canal
Clarksville to Railway Road (western section), no curbs or gutters
From Railway Road to Assawoman Canal, curbs and gutters
Contractor: George & Lynch
Reasons for project:
Reduce traffic congestion
Improve safety for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists
Better delineation of entrances, exits
Improvement of road conditions.
Cost of project: $57 million* or $14.25 million per mile
Design, inspection and traffic control to date: $10.7 million.
Utility relocation: $1 million.
Land acquisition: $20.1 million – 250 parcels.
Construction: $25 million.
*80 percent federally funded
Length: 41.4 miles, Clarksville to Assawoman Canal
3.5 miles of sidewalk
5.5 pipes of pipe
6 miles of curbing
237 entrance points along road
2 bridge/culvert replacements
240 utility pole relocations
4 stormwater management ponds
250 drainage inlets
Contract time: 901 calendar days starting Jan. 6, weather permitting
Day and night work will be permitted
May 16-Sept. 30 – Lane and shoulder closures and lane shifts are not permitted from 6 a.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Monday. Lane shifts and shoulder closures will be permitted Tuesday through Thursday. Lane closures at night only Monday through Thursday
Oct. 1-May 15 – Closures and lane shifts permitted except 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Detours and alternate routes are marked
Project website: sr26.deldot.gov.