DelDOT should listen to public

March 1, 2024

Five roundabouts within a mile-and-a-half stretch of Kings Highway in Lewes make a tough pill to swallow for many residents. There is no question improvements are needed to this important roadway that connects the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to Route 1, but Delaware Department of Transportation’s current proposal may not be the answer. 

Over the last decade, development has exploded along that short stretch of road, from further expansion at Cape Henlopen High School to a senior-living facility, more commercial businesses and greatly needed medical offices. 

This process has turned Kings Highway into an unusual road. It’s not simply residential or commercial or institutional or educational – it’s all those things combined. Daily drivers include morning and afternoon commuters, inexperienced 16-year-old students, elderly residents, and tourists unfamiliar with the area. Putting a series of five roundabouts in the path of this diverse group could be problematic. 

The idea of five roundabouts was first presented in 2022. It didn’t get a lot of positive feedback then, and when a similar plan was presented a few weeks ago, it was similarly received. DelDOT has a difficult task, and its team worked commendably with the Historic Lewes Byway Committee to integrate many elements of the byway master plan. 

The idea of a roundabout is sound. In many places, it’s been proven to be safer than a traditional four-way signaled or unsignaled intersection. The concerning part of the Kings Highway plan is the roundabouts’ proximity. 

The proposed roundabout at Dartmouth Drive makes sense. Most people seem to agree it would improve the intersection. The other four each have opponents who have expressed a variety of concerns. 

Focusing on the Kings Highway-Freeman Highway split, business owners don’t believe the current plan – which does not include turn lanes – will work out well for their bottom line. They don’t think people will drive past a business and through a roundabout to access a restaurant or store on the opposite side of the road. 

We urge DelDOT officials and consultants to carefully consider the issues raised by business owners and residents, and tweak their plans to ensure the end result benefits everyone. It’s important for the safety of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, and for the viability and sustainability of local businesses.

  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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