Dewey Beach residents and officials say state transportation officials should rethink work on the curb along Route 1 at St. Louis Street. But Delaware Department of Transportation officials say the work is required to comply with 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
One in a series of sidewalk bumpouts to address the regulations has been constructed near the St. Louis Street intersection on southbound Route 1. The bumpout extends out covering more than half of the existing shoulder. Other bumpouts are scheduled for construction.
Dewey Town Manager Scott Koenig said the change in the curbline could affect scooters, bikers and joggers if they are not attentive. “I agree this is a concern; however, DelDOT and their engineers may be able to make some minor safety adjustments that could alert all to the changes and still keep the improvement in place,” he said.
DelDOT spokesman Charles McLeod said, “We will be adding a sign and rapid flash beacon, and tubular markers will replace the cones so they will be more visible.”
McLeod said the sidewalk bumpout was installed to address ADA compliance at an unsignaled crosswalk, where design is constrained by a fence along the sidewalk and a steep drop-off. Further, he said, the bumpout shortens pedestrians' crossing distance across southbound Route 1 while maintaining the customary 4 to 5-foot offset for bicycles.
“The speaker of the house, secretary of transportation, our town manager and I have been working on this since the moment the workers pulled back the plastic and caution tape nearly three weeks ago,” said Dewey Mayor TJ Redefer. “It's a bad design that needs to be improved. The solution at this moment is not clear, but it is being worked on.”
In an email to constituents, Dewey Beach Commissioner David Moskowitz said he asked town officials to contact DelDOT officials to get the matter fixed. “This problem will be magnified at night, and you can just see people getting hurt,” he said.
“We are aware there are some folks who aren’t happy with it, but the curb isn’t going to change,” said McLeod.
As part of the ongoing planning and engineering for the next segment of paving and sidewalk upgrades along Route 1 in Dewey Beach, McLeod said, DelDOT is coordinating additional bumpout locations for ADA, pedestrian safety, utility and roadway drainage purposes.
“This conventional cross-section treatment will be applied more consistently throughout the town's downtown area,” he said.
Reporter Ellen Driscoll contributed to this story.