Route 16 overpass needs further review
Fifteen years ago during Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s administration, Nathan Hayward served as secretary of Delaware’s Department of Transportation. Money was scarce, but Rehoboth had a serious congestion problem on the city side of Rehoboth Avenue just east of the drawbridge. Unbroken traffic coming in and out prevented people on the south side of the avenue from crossing to the north side of town and vice versa.
Meanwhile, a $16 million overpass was being designed for the Route 1-Route 16 intersection. Controlled by a traffic light, that intersection didn’t look like a priority to Hayward. Rehoboth’s problem did. Hayward used his position to switch dollars to Rehoboth for a roundabout that has proven successful. He even gave skeptical Rehoboth officials a money-back guarantee.
Now the Route 1 overpass at Route 16 is back on the table - in final design and engineering - and once again, local folks are skeptical.
At Monday’s meeting of the Five Points Working Group, members objected - as have many locals - to building the overpass before completion of other improvements farther south.
DJ Hughes noted the Route 16 stoplight is the only light between I-95 to the north and Five Points. Without that light at Route 16, he said, and without improvements farther south to allow local traffic to move, the overpass will only worsen access issues. Bob Fischer wondered how many miles traffic will back up from Five Points northward without the Route 16 light acting as a regulator. Fischer and Hughes both have professional traffic credentials.
DelDOT officials cited statistics saying the Route 16 light doesn’t affect traffic flow by the time it reaches the Nassau bridge. Locals said DelDOT officials should spend time on these roads for a reality check. Gathering information, listening and prioritizing is why DelDOT initiated the working group process.
History shows DelDOT’s secretary can step in to make common-sense adjustments. The Route 16 light clearly works as a regulator and traffic calmer. Officials must listen to the public input on this issue and prioritize improvements south of Route 16 before moving forward on the overpass.