DelDOT discusses crossing hazardous section of Route 1

Pedestrian bridge, at-grade crosswalk considered near Five Points
May 10, 2024

Crossing Route 1 in the area of the Lewes Transit Center can be treacherous. For those unwilling to walk or cycle to the nearest crossing at Dartmouth Drive or the Nassau Bridge, the only option is to navigate nine lanes of traffic with just a narrow median for reprieve.

In an effort to improve conditions and possibly connect to the growing trail system in the area, the Delaware Department of Transportation conducted a feasibility study on adding a safe crossing in the area of the Route 1 intersections with Shady Road and Marsh Road – near Home Depot, Grotto Pizza and i.g. Burton. 

The result includes three options: two at-grade crossings and a pedestrian bridge.

Currently, the only legal option for anyone who wants to cross Route 1 to patronize a business or hotel is to go to the Nassau Bridge about 1.3 miles north or to Dartmouth Drive (Wawa) about 0.7 miles south.

“There is a benefit to people being able to walk or ride their bikes,” said Mary Roth, a member of the Five Points Working Group and chair of the Lewes Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee.

She said residents of developments on Plantation Road and farther west will soon have improved pathways that could be connected to a bridge for them to continue farther east toward downtown Lewes.

“It’s all hypothetical and out there, but I think there is value for folks on the west [side of Route 1] who are trying to find a way into Lewes outside of a car,” she said.

Leah Kacanda, a planner with DelDOT consultant Whitman, Requardt and Associates, said a safe crossing near the transit center would also benefit service industry workers who commute via bus.

Pedestrian bridge

Mike Campbell of WRA said a pedestrian bridge would span about 180 feet and rise 22 feet above the road surface. He said a bow-string steel structure is the best option, because it can be fabricated off site and dropped in place after piers are built. No piers would be built in the median. 

The plan would include 14-foot-wide ramps in a switchback design with landings. Stairs would also be included. The concept also features mini-roundabouts on each side to slow bicycle traffic coming off the ramps.

Campbell admitted that a bridge will not be used by everyone.

“Historic studies have shown pedestrian bridge can be ineffective if travel distance is too far for someone,” he said. “If they know they want to go from Point A to Point B but they have to go 15 times the distance, they might not use the bridge.”

Several members of the Five Points Working Group said it’s not worth spending $8 million to $12 million if people aren’t going to use a bridge.

Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, wondered if people cross Route 1 in that area now.

“Are we trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist?” he asked.

Kacanda said there is a desire to cross Route 1, but many do not because it’s unsafe. She said barriers would be added to the center median to preclude people from illegally crossing the road.

New signal option

A much-less-expensive option would be to add a ground-level crossing spanning Route 1 from Shady Road to Marsh Road. Such an option would cost less than $1 million and be inexpensive to maintain.

To add a crosswalk, the intersection would have to be signalized. The existing traffic would not change, meaning the right-in, right-out movements from Shady and Marsh would remain, as would the left turns and U-turns from the median.

Kacanda said a crosswalk spanning nine lanes of traffic is not ideal. There is potential for a pedestrian refuge in the median, but there is limited space available to allow for maintaining the existing vehicular movements.

Changes to Wescoats Road?

Another ground-level option would include changes to the intersection of Route 1 and Wescoats Road at the ExxonMobil gas station.

This alternative would add a new traffic signal at the intersection of Route 1 with Shady and Marsh roads. Unlike the other ground-level option, this plan would convert the area into a typical intersection with northbound and southbound movements from Shady and Marsh roads. 

To accomplish this, the Wescoats Road and Route 1 intersection would be converted to a right-in, right-out intersection, with all southbound Route 1 traffic on Wescoats Road redirected to Marsh Road. 

“We know signalization creates significant delays on Route 1 at Shady Road/Marsh Road, in line with most signalized intersections in the corridor,” Kacanda said. “Adding signalization at Shady/Marsh does not impact Wescoats that much, [but] removing Wescoats creates more of a delay – a significant but not failing delay.”

The Route 1 crossing alternatives will be included in the SR1 Low-Stress Bikeway Study for further analysis. The concept plans will also be presented at a Five Points Working Group workshop set for Tuesday, June 11, at Cape Henlopen High School.

Kacanda said a crossing near the transit center is worthy of consideration.

“If you’re coming down from Wilmington on a bus, you have to wait for a transfer, which can sometimes take 20 minutes or a half-hour,” she said. “Also, someone could work across [Route 1] at a hotel. They’re stuck there waiting. That’s time out of their day. They then drive instead of using the bus. As the department begins to invest in pathways and transit throughout the area to alleviate congestion problems, we need to start making meaningful moves to mitigate traffic where we can.” 

Outlets bridge not feasible

The feasibility study also looked at adding a pedestrian bridge in the area of Tanger Outlets Surfside and Bryan Road near Panera Bread. Due to a large number of overhead utilities, limited right of way and a lack of trail network connectivity, a bridge in that location was determined to be unfeasible. Unlike the possible location near the Lewes Transit Center, at-grade crosswalks already exist in the area.

The project team was also asked about the feasibility of tunnels. Kacanda said two factors ruled those out: a high water table and sandy soil, plus the fact that tunnels would take up just as much space as a pedestrian bridge.

To view the Five Points Working Group presentation and discussion, go to


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