If the Department of Transportation moves forward with its plan to overhaul a 1.5-mile section of Route 1 north of Five Points, nine median crossovers will be eliminated and access to Route 1 will be limited.
Under the plan, traffic seeking to cross Route 1 will be redirected onto a series of service roads and roundabouts and under Nassau Bridge. The new routes will extend travel time, but officials say, they will be much safer for motorists.
The latest version of the plan was presented to the public at a workshop Oct. 3 at Beacon Middle School. The $32 million project is in the design phase, with construction anticipated in 2023 and completion by 2025.
In a 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, nearly 200 crashes were recorded at the crossovers between Five Points and just north of Minos Conaway Road. Sixty-one occurred at the crossover immediately south of the Nassau Bridge alone, while the blinking light at St. Jude Church accounted for 42 crashes and Minos Conaway Road for 37 more. This is the most recent data available, said C.R. McLeod, DelDOT’s director of community relations.
“I think we’re all very aware this is an area where we’ve really been struggling,” said Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes. “So to have DelDOT put all hands on deck and really put together a substantive effort into the design is important.”
The project will likely be phased. McLeod expects work on the service roads to occur first, followed by temporary lane restrictions on Route 1 similar to what has occurred in the past with overpasses.
The plan proposes two service roads parallel to Route 1 north of the Nassau bridge. A roundabout at Minos Conaway Road will provide access to local traffic. Motorists will have access to southbound Route 1 from the roundabout. Drivers may also travel west on Minos Conaway Road or continue south on a new service road. They will encounter another roundabout at the base of Nassau Bridge near Lewes Senior Center. Here, drivers can continue through to Janice Road toward Lewes Fire Department or head east under the bridge toward New Road. A third roundabout is planned for the intersection of New Road, Nassau Road and the new road under Nassau Bridge. The northbound-side service road will extend Nassau Road beyond Meineke and Surfing Crab before merging with Route 1.
In talking with residents, Lopez said the project’s three proposed roundabouts have been a hot topic.
“The engineering and explanation that’s being presented to people shows roundabouts are having a very positive impact on safety in regard to speed,” Lopez said. “Roundabouts slow automobiles down but it doesn’t necessarily stop them like traffic signals do.”
DelDOT estimates right-of-way acquisition for the project will cost $12 million. Among the most high-profile properties effected by the project is the Messina Plumbing, Electric & HVAC Co., located where New Road dead ends at Nassau Road. It is one of three parcels between Nassau Road and Route 1 that will be acquired through DelDOT’s advanced acquisition process. The largest is a vacant parcel that’s owned by the Knapp family, according to Sussex County tax records.
A separate, but related, project is the construction of a trailhead at the foot of the Nassau Bridge, near Lewes Senior Center. The plan calls for 50 parking spaces with direct access to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail. McLeod said access would be via the southbound-side service road, so it will be constructed as part of the overall project or shortly after. According to Sussex County tax records, most of the property is owned by the McGreevy family.
The project will connect Minos Conaway Road to the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail via a multi-use path parallel to the service road. The existing trail under Nassau Bridge will be altered to accommodate a two-lane road. The trail will be moved from the center of the right of way inside the bridge supports and be completely separated from vehicular traffic.
Routes to change significantly
- Under the proposed plan, someone driving southbound on Route 1 heading to New Road will exit north of Minos Conaway Road. A service road will take them through a roundabout at Minos Conaway Road and another at Nassau Bridge near Lewes Senior Center. After going under the bridge, the driver will come to a third roundabout at New and Nassau roads.
- For those driving north from Five Points seeking to go to Old Mill Road, Meineke or Surfing Crab, drivers will not have direct access from Route 1. The plan requires drivers exit Route 1 south of Nassau Bridge onto Nassau Road. After going through a roundabout at New Road, they will continue on a service road to Old Mill Road or the entrances to the businesses. The service road rejoins Route 1 well north of the businesses, near Red Mill Pond.
- To visit St. Jude Catholic Church or one of the neighboring residential communities, the plan requires a southbound driver to exit north of Minos Conaway Road. A service road takes them through a roundabout at Minos Conaway Road and a second roundabout at Nassau Bridge near Lewes Senior Center. After going under the bridge, the driver goes through a third roundabout and east on Nassau Road until they reach the church road. With all crossovers eliminated in the plan, the nearest southbound U-turn opportunity for Route 1 drivers who miss the exit will be south of Five Points.
To view project plans and see a video simulation of the proposed changes, go to https://deldot.gov/projects and search SR1, Minos Conaway Grade Separated Intersection. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to DelDOT Community Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903.
Other projects in the area
• Plantation Road/Malfunction Junction - DelDOT is in the design phase for a major project just west of Five Points. In it, the preferred option includes a two-lane roundabout at Malfunction Junction – the intersection at Plantation Road, Beaver Dam Road and Route 9. It also proposes significant upgrades to Plantation Road down to Route 24. Work on Phase 1 of the $20 million project is expected to begin in January 2022, with all four phases scheduled to be completed by April 2024.
• Route 24 improvements - Work is scheduled to begin in spring 2020. The project will widen Route 24 from Route 1 to the Love Creek bridge with improvements at the Plantation Road-Warrington Road-Route 24 intersection.
• Cave Neck Road overpass - A public workshop on the Route 1/Cave Neck Road project is scheduled for 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Lewes Fire Department, 32198 Janice Road. Officials anticipate construction to begin in 2024 and be completed by 2025.
• Route 16 overpass - DelDOT plans to remove the traffic signal at Route 1 and Route 16 after building an overpass. A workshop was held in 2016 and the topic has been discussed frequently at Five Points Working Group meetings. Construction is slated to begin in fall 2021 and complete by spring 2024.
• Route 1 crossovers - DelDOT plans changes at several Route 1 crossovers from Nassau to Milton to remove conflicts and improve safety. Work is planned at Hudson Road/Steamboat Landing Road, Eagle Crest Road/Oyster Rocks Road, and Route 5, among others. DelDOT completed temporary changes at Cave Neck Road earlier this year.
• Old Orchard Road realignment - DelDOT plans to realign Old Orchard Road so it lines up with the existing traffic signal at Savannah Road/Wescoats Road at Wescoats Corner. The project also includes a new roundabout for traffic using Wescoats, Clay and Marsh roads. Construction is planned for spring 2022 and completion by spring 2024.