Cave Neck Road-Route 1 work five years away

DelDOT: Traffic signal not a viable option for busy intersection
May 28, 2020

Story Location:
Coastal Highway
Cave Neck Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Construction of a grade-separated interchange at Cave Neck Road and Route 1 is expected to get underway in 2025. State transportation officials have settled on a conceptual design, so preliminary work on the design and obtaining rights of way for the $50 million project can begin.

Delaware Department of Transportation officials conducted a virtual workshop May 20, with a question-and-answer period. Another workshop will be scheduled, officials said.

DelDOT project manager Calvin Esham said the interchange, on Route 1 between Lewes and Milton, is part of a multiyear project to create a limited-access Route 1 from Dover to Lewes. Two other grade-separated interchange projects, at Route 16 and at Minos Conaway Road, are in line to be completed before the Cave Neck Road project.

Under the state's Corridor Capacity Preservation Program, Route 1 access points are being removed or consolidated to accommodate large volumes of traffic. Esham said no new traffic signals will be constructed on Route 1, and interim measures already restrict vehicle crossovers from Cave Neck Road. The project calls for eliminating all crossovers in the project area.

Bridge will go over Route 1

Under the proposed design, Cave Neck Road will extend over Route 1, onto property east of Route 1 where two housing developments have been approved.

AECOM consultant Joe Hofstee said the scope of the project calls for exploring aesthetics for the bridge as a gateway to the beach area.

The proposed design provides for safe pedestrian and bicycle access across the new Route 1 overpass.

Extended Cave Neck Road will have 5-foot shoulders with a 10-foot wide multiuse path on the south side of Cave Neck Road over the bridge and a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side.

Based on public input, officials changed the design of the project, adding a frontage road east of Route 1 connecting Cave Neck Road and Willow Creek Road. A frontage road on the western side of Route 1 had already been part of the design.

Residents who live along Fox Run Lane just north of the intersection will no longer have direct access to Route 1, but will access the new interchange via a new connector road to Cave Neck Road. Traffic to existing parcels and neighborhoods will use the on- and off-ramps and the frontage roads.

Hofstee said the project design will reflect current traffic conditions and accommodate future growth, allowing for the possibility of a third southbound Route 1 lane and widening of Cave Neck Road in the future. He said the proposed design also allows for a large working area, less traffic impact and a shorter construction time.

No new traffic signals

Esham and Hofstee agreed a traffic signal is not an option for the intersection.

Hofstee said the intersection would be classified as failing now and even more so in the future, with expected weekend peak traffic delays of up to four minutes in 2025 and 12 minutes in 2050.

With a grade-separated interchange, traffic will flow uninterrupted, with no delays or stops, he said.

The need for roundabouts

The design includes roundabouts on the east and west sides of the interchange.

Several people questioned the need for two roundabouts. Both Esham and Hofstee argued roundabouts allow for safety and efficiency as the preferred intersection choice.

Hofstee said because speeds are reduced, national statistics show fatal crashes are reduced 90 percent, injury crashes by 70 percent, pedestrian crashes by 40 percent and bicycle crashes by 10 percent compared with other intersection options.

Esham said designers are aware farm equipment will travel on the roundabouts, which he said are built to accommodate turns for the largest 18-wheel trucks and even combines. “We are confident any vehicle can be accommodated on the roundabouts,” he said.

The design of the center of the roundabouts has not been finalized and could be grass, concrete or landscaping.

$15 million for rights of way

Esham said because the design is still in progress, land required for rights of way has not been determined. “We have a lot more design work to do before we speak to people with firm right-of-way impacts. By the next workshop we'll know most of the impacts,” he said.

The cost includes $15 million for the purchase of rights of way.

Two housing developments – Overbrook Meadows and Overbrook West – have been approved for construction on the northeastern side of the interchange. Esham said DelDOT officials will work with any developers of new projects in the area to determine possible financial contributions to the project.

When asked why the proposed eastern frontage road was not closer to Route 1 instead of bisecting an existing farm field, Esham said the design is not finalized.

However, he said, merging the frontage road with a ramp on that side of the highway would create safety issues.

Several people expressed concerns with traffic flow during construction, especially from Cave Neck Road. “During phasing, we will attempt to reduce detours, and we are exploring a temporary access road to Route 1 from Cave Neck Road,” Hofstee said.

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