Utility replacements have delayed the start of the Route 9-Harbeson Road intersection improvement project, but the work is nearly complete and construction on the intersection is set to start Tuesday, Jan. 22.
“There are a lot of moving parts to this project. There is a lot going on out there,” said George Pierce, Delaware Department of Transportation engineer.
He said it has been a challenge to design the project because there are commercial establishments on two corners and a cemetery and wetlands on the other two.
The intersection was identified as needing improvements as part of a 2009 Hazard Elimination Program along Route 9. Work has been completed at three other Route 9 intersections: Gravel Hill Road; Fisher and Hudson roads; and Sweetbriar and Dairy Farm roads. The project will mirror work done at the other intersections.
DelDOT officials said 110 crashes were reported at the intersection from January 2005 to February 2015 with 51 percent reported as rear-end crashes.
Pierce said the $3.8 million project includes road widening to allow for left-hand turn lanes on all four legs of the intersection. Improved drainage and sidewalks are also part of the project.
The geometry of the intersection is changing to accommodate large trucks turning off and onto Harbeson Road to the nearby Allen Harim poultry plant. Over the years, the Harbeson United Methodist Church cemetery wall at the intersection has been hit by trucks numerous times.
In addition, bridges and culverts on Harbeson Road and Route 9 must be replaced. Work is scheduled to start on the Harbeson Road bridge Jan. 22 and be completed by Thursday, March 21.
Pierce said the contractor is on a strict timeline with financial penalties built into the contract if the work is not completed by the deadline.
As soon as that work is completed, the contractor will begin work to replace the Route 9 bridge just west of the cemetery. Pierce said that project is expected to be completed in 17 days.
Then work can start to widen the intersection. He said the project will take about a year to complete. Pierce said because of the high volume of traffic in the summer, it's probable work will be halted during the summer months.
Intersection improvements are being designed to match up with a new Royal Farms convenience store to be built at the southeastern corner of the intersection. “We are still finalizing details; we want to get this 100-percent right,” Pierce said.
Pierce acknowledged traffic is a serious issue at the intersection. “We will do our best to keep traffic moving,” he said.
Harbeson detours begin Jan. 22
Route 5 between Diamond Farm Road and Harbeson will be closed north of the Route 9 intersection from 6 a.m., Tuesday, Jan 22, to 6 a.m., Thursday, March 21, for intersection improvements and to replace a bridge.
Detour routes: Motorists leaving Milton to travel southbound on Harbeson Road will need to use Sand Hill Road westbound to Gravel Hill Road southbound to eastbound Route 9.
Traffic leaving Harbeson to travel northbound to Harbeson Road will need to use Route 9 westbound to Gravel Hill Road northbound, to eastbound Sand Hill Road.
For all of the other intersecting routes, motorists should follow the posted detour signage. During this construction, all businesses will remain open to the public.