Route 26 roadwork will be waking up earlier this month. Lane closures will continue for two more weeks for utility work but will begin at 5 a.m. daily, and there will be no lane closures on weekends.
The Delaware Department of Transportation notified the Route 26 Working Group in a June 6 email that early-morning lane closures would begin Monday, June 10.
Delmarva Power, Verizon and Mediacom are relocating utility lines in preparation for the Route 26 Mainline Improvements project, which will add a center turn lane and other changes to a 4-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue.
That work may continue through summer, but DelDOT is requiring that lane closures stop from July to October, having already extended the previous mid-May deadline for their end to June 30. Until this week, lane closures had been permitted daily from 8:30 a.m. to dusk, according to DelDOT project manager Tom Banez.
With a request from Delmarva Power to start work earlier, DelDOT extended the time the utility companies could begin work to 5 a.m. According to Delmarva Power, the early closure will not be necessary every morning and will end June 30. The intention is to allow Delmarva Power’s work to be completed in Section 2 of the project, as far west as Railway Road, so progress can continue in a timely matter when the work picks up again in autumn.
In order to alleviate some of the concerns about weekend traffic, the hours permitted for the lane closures have also been changed for Fridays to 5 a.m. to noon, where previously the hours were the same 8:30 a.m. to dusk schedule that had been permitted the rest of the week.
“We were getting some feedback from people in the area with concerns over the congestion, so we offered these hours as a compromise,” Banez said.
After the DelDOT email that announced the extension of lane closures to June 30, some Working Group community members expressed displeasure at the lane closure extension.
Donald Hattier of Beachview Chiropractic Center wrote that “allowing work to go [until] June 30 will inevitably impact summer traffic. That is the week just before July 4 week and is the busiest week this area has. Extending that work time into the Fourth of July week is not a good idea.”
Hattier suggested DelDOT post “alternate route” signboards, so fewer vehicles get caught in Route 26 traffic. He said traffic had already negatively impacted his own business.
Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce officials suggested that lane closures end Fridays at noon, with no closures on Saturday and Sunday.
“Many businesses have also voiced concern that Quiet Resorts visitors will have an initial negative experience when arriving if they encounter delays. … This could also result in having visitors avoid the Route 26 area during the remainder of their stay,” wrote David W. Martin, Chamber executive director, also thanking DelDOT for communicating the state’s intentions.
DelDOT responded Wednesday saying there will be no lane closures on Route 26 on the weekends for the rest of the month.
Banez said DelDOT has stationary and mobile cameras, plus personnel, to help monitor the situation and make changes if needed. But if a few more days are needed to get Delmarva Power crews to the end point of the job, DelDOT may consider an additional small time extension, officials said.
“Thank you for your concerns,” wrote Natalie Barnhart, DelDOT chief engineer. “We understand the inconvenience that is generated from the construction work and we are doing our best to balance the needs of the local businesses, residents [and] tourists against our construction goals.”
“DelDOT appreciates the patience of the local community and their support of the project,” Banez said.
For more information on the Route 26 Mainline Project, call DelDOT Public Relations at (302) 760-2080 or visit www.DelDOT.gov, find the Projects page, and click “SR 26 Mainline and Detour Routes Project.” People can also download a smartphone app that will provide updates.