Five Points Working Group members and the public again took aim at a state plan to remove the traffic light at Route 1 and Route 16.
Department of Transportation officials are moving ahead with right-of-way acquisition ahead of a project to build an overpass at the intersection. The traffic signal would be removed when the project is complete in 2023.
DJ Hughes, a traffic engineer with Davis, Bowen and Friedel of Georgetown and a vocal opponent of the plan, told transportation officials removing the signal will create major safety problems and add to congestion from Route 16 to Five Points.
Hughes said the crash data provided by DelDOT supports his claim that a plan to change the traffic pattern around Minos Conaway Road and Nassau Bridge should occur before an overpass is built at Route 16. At the eight crossovers included in the Minos Conaway Road project, 205 crashes have been recorded, he said. At Route 16, he said, there have been 76 crashes.
“While Route 1 and 16 might have the single-most crashes, the eight crossovers have many more,” he said. “I just don’t believe it’s truly being reevaluated.”
Hughes also believes a planned overpass at Cave Neck Road should occur before the light is removed.
Shanté Hastings, DelDOT’s new chief engineer, said the department is collecting data from Milford to Five Points throughout the summer to provide more information about the effects of removing the traffic signal at Route 16. She said cameras are set up, and staff is studying and analyzing gaps, queueing and other factors.
“We want to provide some of that visual information,” she said. “We think that may be helpful to understand what’s happening along the entire corridor, both north of Route 16 and south.”
In a May 14 commentary in the Cape Gazette, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan wrote that DelDOT would test removing the light over the summer by temporarily leaving the Route 1 northbound and southbound signal green at all times, and not allowing traffic to cross the intersection.
Charles McLeod, DelDOT’s director of community relations, said that test is no longer likely to happen.
“We are still evaluating the best way to gather additional traffic data and may not end up having to turn the light off temporarily to accomplish that,” he said.
Minos Conaway Road resident Bill Weller said DelDOT needs to use on-the-ground observations in reconsidering the removal of the Route 16 signal. He said the signal stops vehicles for at least a minute, creating gaps in traffic and allowing people enter Route 1 farther south.
“You can’t convince me with any statistics,” he said. “Please rethink how you spin your study and make it sound like you’re really listening to us.”
Crossover changes coming
DelDOT is planning to make short-term changes at several Route 1 crossovers, starting with Cave Neck Road. Work at the intersection will begin at 8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 5, and will be completed by 5 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 6. The new traffic pattern will require all motorists on Cave Neck Road approaching Route 1 to turn right to go south on Route 1.
Motorists wanting to go north on Route 1 from Cave Neck Road will turn right onto southbound Route 1 and then make a U-turn at a crossover south of the Cave Neck Road intersection.
Working Group member Lloyd Schmitz said he’s concerned that requiring northbound drivers to go south and use a U-turn could create problems at other crossovers. He asked if DelDOT was planning to extend the turning lanes at the other crossovers.
“Right turn, U-turns are used all throughout the country on corridors like Route 1 and even bigger to limit those conflicts in the immediate crossover area,” Hastings said.
Pylons will be used to limit turns at Cave Neck traffic, so if anything needs to be tweaked it will be easy, Hastings said.
Route 1 northbound motorists will still be able to turn left onto Cave Neck Road. Route 1 southbound motorists will not be able to make a U-turn at the Cave Neck Road intersection.
Working Group member Greg Christmas, owner of Beach Time Distilling on Nassau Road, said DelDOT should eliminate all U-turns at the Cave Neck Road crossover. He said drivers trying to U-turn to go southbound often struggle to find a gap in traffic to go southbound, resulting in some accidents and many near misses. DelDOT said it’s impossible to stop someone from making a U-turn, but they can add a no U-turn sign.
Similar changes are coming to the Route 1 intersections at Route 5 north of Milton, Hudson Road/Steamboat Landing Road, and Eagles Crest Road/Oyster Rocks Road.
Hastings said the crossovers will not look the same, but the changes will benefit most people who currently use each intersection.
“We have to look at how we can remove conflicts from an intersection,” she said. “We base that on what’s the predominant movement and what conflict is causing the biggest issues.”
The other crossover changes are expected later this year or early next year.
- DelDOT is planning to study the benefits, costs and impacts of constructing a new road parallel to Plantation Road, connecting Mulberry Knoll Road with Route 9. The idea would be considered as part of the Henlopen Transportation Improvement District
- A study shows no current need for a traffic signal at Minos Conaway Road and Route 9. DelDOT recommends a right-turn lane on Minos Conaway Road.
- DelDOT is considering a project to widen Route 9 from about Five Points to just west of The Vineyards. The project would fall in the fiscal year 2021-26 capital transportation plan.
- A project is proposed to improve the intersection of Old Landing and Warrington Roads, but it is not planned until the FY21-FY26 CTP.
- DelDOT is considering converting a driveway at Arby’s on Route 1 in Lewes to a public-use roadway to provide interconnections to planned hotels and other businesses.
- DelDOT has added signage north of Milford encouraging drivers going to Millsboro and Georgetown to use Route 113. Lewes City Manager Ann Marie Townshend asked if DelDOT could add similar signage south of Milford to encourage people going to Long Neck to use Route 30. “What we’re finding over the last few years is signage is becoming less and less effective in guiding people’s route choices,” said Jeff Riegner of engineering firm Whitman, Requardt & Associates, a DelDOT consultant. “They’re using Google Maps and Waze,” he said, noting under uncongested conditions, Route 30 is a much longer time route to get to Long Neck than taking Route 1 to Route 24.