The jury is still out on work to repair rumble strips along Route 9 and Route 24 in the Cape Region.
Delaware Department of Transportation officials went back to the drawing board to remove the strips after complaints that the new strips forced cyclists to ride off the shoulder into the roadway and traffic. Just how to fix the problem has not yet been determined.
Two miles of the more than 70 miles of rumble strips placed along Sussex County roads were completed in violation of Delaware Department of Transportation guidelines requiring at least 4 feet of riding space for cyclists between the strips and the edge of the shoulder.
DelDOT contractor Safety Improvements LLC has done two tests so far to determine whether patching materials can fill the strips and provide a smooth, safe riding surface for cyclists. The first repair – on 200 feet of strips along Route 24 near Robinsonville Road – was inadequate, said DelDOT spokesman Greg Layton.
A second patch was completed on eastbound Route 9 near Lewes Landing. Layton said that patch appears smoother than the first attempt. He is asking area cyclists to ride by the test area and provide feedback. John Kurpjuweit, president of Sussex Cyclists, said the Route 24 patch is not ridable, but the second patch appears to be smooth enough for cyclists to ride on.
“They won't or can't say who made the mistake,” Kurpjuweit said.
“DelDOT understands that this situation is not only frustrating for bicyclists, but presents a potential danger,” Layton said. “Our goal is to first find a method and material that provides a smooth and reliable surface. Next, we will work with our contractor to ensure that repairs are completed as rapidly as possible.”
Layton has no timetable for completion of repairs. If patching is not successful, the shoulders with the improper strips will have to milled down and repaved, which is far more expensive, DelDOT officials said. Layton said the contractor will cover the cost of repairs.
Kurpjuweit said local cyclists have mixed emotions about rumble strips.
“I like rumble strips if they are put down properly,” Kurpjuweit said. “If a car hits the strips, it gives me an alert, and the driver also knows they are off the road.”
But, he said, some riders who prefer to ride close to the white line away from debris that accumulates on the right side of shoulders are opposed to rumble strips on roadways frequented by cyclists.
Mike Tyler, Sussex Cyclists advocacy chairman, said DelDOT should install all rumble strips the way they are placed along Route 1 from Dewey Beach to Fenwick Island. The strips are bicycle friendly because they are narrower and not as deep as traditional rumble strips.
In addition, rumble strips in the Route 1 corridor between Five Points and Rehoboth Beach are placed on the white line marking the edge of the edge of the road and shoulder allowing more space for cyclists and pedestrians.