Long Neck Road is the busiest dead end in Delaware
A couple of months ago, the Delaware Department of Transportation issued an email saying its 2021 Traffic Vehicle Volume Summary had been completed. The data shows the year’s average annual daily traffic count and 10 years worth of historical data. The daily counts are broken down into 10 ranges – 1,000-5,000; 5,000-7,500; 7,500-8,000; 8,000-9,000; 9,000-10,000; 10,000-20,000; 20,000-40,000; 40,000-80,000; 80,000-205,940.
I finally got around to looking it over recently. More than anything, at least in my opinion, the data more or less confirmed that traffic in the Cape Region has been on the rise, and with the year-round population continuing to grow, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve put a few of the more interesting takeaways below:
• According to the data, Long Neck Road is the busiest dead end in the state, seeing an average of roughly 11,500 vehicles daily. C.R. McLeod, DelDOT spokesperson, said the department couldn’t say definitively without doing a larger analysis, but he said that’s a fairly accurate statement. He attributed a number of different factors – Massey’s Landing Campground and the Massey’s Ditch boat ramp all the way at the end keep traffic on the road from beginning to end; the growing number of trailer parks and the growing number of permanent residents in those same trailer parks. The 10-year data for Long Neck Road shows a fairly consistent range – somewhere between the low 10,000s to the mid-12,000s. According to DelDOT records, the jump in traffic happened in 2005, when it went from about 7,800 in 2004 to about 11,200. It’s been in that range ever since.
• Trying to join the conversation as the busiest dead end in the state is Old Landing Road, which has an average annual daily traffic count nearing 8,200 from the intersection with Warrington Road. DelDOT can’t say with certainty that Old Landing Road will get into the same range as Long Neck Road, but there’s been an obvious increase with the new development taking place, said McLeod.
• Not surprisingly, the only stretch of road in Sussex County that even comes near the highest category of count levels is the stretch of Route 1 from the Nassau Bridge to Dewey Beach. There are different averages for different sections along this portion of the road, but they range from roughly 50,000 annual daily trips to about 66,500.
• Traffic changes considerably from summer to the winter months. According to one of the traffic monitoring stations on Route 1 near Rehoboth, the monthly average daily traffic in February 2021 was a little more than 36,000. A few months later, in May, the count jumped to more than 64,000, McLeod said, adding there are also times in the summer where the count goes up to 70,000 or more vehicles daily.
• Connector roads can make stretches of one road busier than other stretches of the same road. For example, on Route 16 west of Milton, it goes from 8,000 to 9,000 vehicles daily to 7,500 to 8,000 vehicles. This happens because there is an intersection with Union Street allowing vehicles to turn off or to keep going straight on Route 16, he said. There are also multiple ways to get into Milton, so segments of Route 16 within the town boundaries will be fed by multiple pathways with drivers coming from all directions, which in turn drives up the traffic average, said McLeod. As drivers leave the area, they take different roads, so the numbers are lower as they leave town limits, he said.
• While there are some high-traffic areas in Sussex County, a significant majority of the roads in the county still fall in the lowest three categories of daily traffic – less than 7,500 daily vehicles.
• Columnists looking for column ideas was not the reason the data was made available. McLeod said there are many different uses for this data – road management, state projects, public use and any business interested in using the data for future development. Municipalities also use the data for traffic management and to carry out their own studies, he said. Additionally, McLeod said, by law the data must also be reported to the Federal Highway Administration for its own federal studies, including noise-reduction studies, pollution studies and creation of travel models.
• As for the traffic data for 2022, DelDOT won’t have all the data until the end of the year, but the indications are a slight increase in travel at our beaches this year, McLeod said.
For those interested in looking over the data, go to deldot.gov and click on the traffic counts link in the transportation data box.
Joke of the Week
A couple of weeks ago, Rehoboth Beach Mayor Stan Mills asked me about the people who submit the jokes. I told him it’s similar to people who have an opinion about the job he’s doing – it’s pretty much always the same handful of people who have something to say. No rhyme or reason for this joke. I basically thought my kids would think it was funny. As always, send joke submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Person 1: Did you hear the rumor about butter?
Person 2: No.
Person 1: Well, I'm not going to spread it!