Area readies for Route 26 improvements to start

Visitors and locals alike have complained about traffic congestion and potentially dangerous conditions on Route 26 for years, particularly as the area’s summer and year-round populations have continued to increase. Now, we’re on the horizon of a project that could help alleviate some of those problems, but it brings with it some issues of its own.

DelDOT officials met with the public this Tuesday to offer information on the Route 26 Mainline Improvements Project, which is finally nearing the start of its construction phase, likely this December, after years of delays, funding processes, land acquisitions and preparation of utilities and detour routes before any of it could start. Their key message to residents, business owners and visitors: Stay informed.

“It won’t be painless. The main thing is to keep informed,” said Jill Frey of Century Engineering, the project design firm, at the Oct. 15 meeting.

Those using Route 26 can expect to find periodic lane closures from now until the project’s completion, which is expected by the summer of 2016. Currently, sporadic single-lane closures are accompanying final utility work ahead of the construction start. Those closures are expected to increase as the actual construction gets under way, but DelDOT will limit summertime work and space out the areas where the closures will be located so that they can both work on multiple sections at a time and avoid inconveniencing businesses and motorists any more than needed.

The public is rightly concerned over the potential impacts of the construction over the course of more than two years, but keeping track of where the work is to occur and ways to avoid the resulting traffic backups will make things much easier for those traveling the Route 26 corridor during that time. And attending planned meetings or visiting the DelDOT website during this period is likely to make planning around the work much easier. So, we’d encourage you to do that as much as you can.

We’re sure there are still going to be delays, and sometimes people will have to work a little harder to get to our local businesses, but that’s a good reason to remember to seek out our local entrepreneurs:?Your neighbors need your continued business if you want them to be around after the project is completed.

All of this also holds true for Bethany Beach’s Streetscape work, which will run until next summer:?Keep updated on what’s happening with the projects, prepare for a few inconveniences and detours, and make the extra effort to patronize our local businesses, so that when all is said and done, we will have a even better place to live, work and play.