Let the traffic flow: No more daytime lane closures on 26

Date Published: 
May 16, 2014

Spring is here, which means Route 26 shouldn’t have any daytime lane closures again until Sept. 30. Two lanes of traffic must be maintained.

Roadwork may continue 24 hours a day, but on the weekends, from 6 a.m. Friday mornings until 6 p.m. Monday nights, there can be no lane closures, shoulder closures or lane shifts. However, such restrictions are all permitted during night work, from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. between Monday night and Friday morning.

“Night work will, hopefully, minimize traffic disruption,” said Len Brooks of contractor George & Lynch. However, it may not be needed much at this point in the process, because most work doesn’t require lane closures.

During the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., lane shifts and shoulder closures are allowed, as long as two lanes of traffic are maintained.

However, Clarksville may have two more days of lane closures between Route 17 and Powell Farm Road as Delmarva Power finishes some utility relocations. Traffic will alternate, as directed by flaggers.

Currently, the shoulder is closed between Assawoman Canal and Town Road for sewer force main relocation. Excavation continues for a Clarksville stormwater management pond, and other utility relocations are ongoing.

Detours are not required for the work. But officials are advising motorists to drive with caution, slow down in work zones and never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones.

Although the project’s Central Avenue closure for pipe installation was much shorter than anticipated, Ocean View residents were concerned.

“Local communities were seeing a lot of cut-through traffic. I want to make it clear DelDOT did not post a detour route along local [roads],” said Ken Cimino, AECOM’s on-site public outreach coordinator.

DelDOT did post a longer detour on State-owned roads, but it’s “human nature: people are going to take the shortest distance between Point A and Point B,” Cimino said.

Emergency responders have met with the project team to write an operating procedure for summertime emergencies.

“So far, everything seems to be moving along, going well,” said Cimino. Fire companies and others will meet again after Memorial Day weekend to see how the plans worked.

In the future, George & Lynch is next looking to upgrade three intersections on Route 26: at Old Mill Road (by Food Lion), Cedar Drive (by Giant) and Central Avenue (by Fulton Bank).

Cimino will get out ahead of that project to contact businesses and residents affected by that work, to “just give them an update they may experience some minimal impact with those construction activities.”

Residents and businesses are being encouraged to contact Ken Cimino at any time with questions or concerns, at (302) 616-2621, or Kenneth.cimino@aecom.com or 17 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 2 in Ocean View.

As Delaware Department of Transportation performs the 901-day widening project, which began in January, Tidewater Utilities will simultaneously expand water service from Old School Lane in Ocean View to Windmill Drive in Millville.

About 10,000 feet of 16- and 12-inch water main will be laid under Route 26, approximately from bridge to bridge, making room for the stormwater management pipes required by DelDOT.

Tidewater also awarded that contract to low-bidder George & Lynch, which makes for easier coordination of road- and pipework.

Traffic signal

slow-downs

In a related occurrence, some traffic backups have recently occurred at the Route 26/Old Mill Road intersection because of new signal timing.

Typically, intersections have a loop detector, which senses when a vehicle is waiting. A car pulls forward to the red light, and the traffic signal knows it needs to turn green. However, DelDOT’s Traffic Management Center in late April switched the signal to a “fixed-time” system, which gives each cross-road a specific amount of time with a green signal, regardless of whether a vehicle is waiting there.

Cars may wait longer than before, “because nothing is sending a message to the controller to change the signal.” Meanwhile, a green light may be wasted on an empty lane.

The change was originally made in anticipation of excavation for stormwater drainage, so flaggers or police could direct traffic manually. But because George & Lynch may postpone summertime drainage work, Cimino said, DelDOT is actually working to return the signals to “a traffic-responsive” system.

The change has led to significant backups of traffic at the intersection — with the eastbound Route 26 traffic sometimes backing up from Old Mill to Whites Neck Road and forcing drivers to wait through four or more light changes just to clear the intersection.

Lord Baltimore Elementary School even allowed parents to drop their children off late one morning because traffic had backed up so severely for no apparent reason.

“This is the first time that has happened,” said Principal Ann Marie Logullo, adding that parents are aware of traffic and adjust their schedules accordingly. “Parents are very good about adjusting their times.”

“It shows the importance of work-zone safety. Situations change from day to day, hour to hour,” said Bob King, DelDOT community relations officer. “Expect the unexpected.”