Locals, crews play catch-up with new Route 26 schedule

Date Published: 
July 25, 2014

Drivers and business owners may get some relief on Route 26, as lane closures will now begin later each evening, although work on Sunday nights has been added. The project’s Construction Management Team tweaked the hours this week to improve travel but also give contractor George & Lynch the time it needs.

“We’ve still got a month and a half of summer left. We decided that we could make some adjustments and ease some of the stress,” on-site public outreach coordinator Ken Cimino said this week.

One lane of Route 26 is required to remain open while night work takes place, but beginning Sunday, July 20, construction crews are permitted to close lanes of Route 26 from 10:30 p.m. Sunday night to 7 a.m. on Monday morning. That will continue as long as there are “no adverse impacts to the traveling public, resulting in excessive delays and wait times,” according to this week’s Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announcement.

Meanwhile, weekday lane closures will be pushed back one hour, lasting from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday night to Friday morning.

Construction inspection staff have closely monitored traffic delays since nighttime lane closures began May 21, officials emphasized.

“On numerous occasions throughout the first half of the ‘on-peak’ season, traffic queues with clearance times in excess of one hour have been observed,” DelDOT officials acknowledged. Businesses and customers have been frustrated — especially those with dinner orders to be picked up at 7 p.m. or later.

Cimino said the goal of the changes is to “increase mobility so people can go out before the hour of 8 and spend money in the restaurants and businesses.” He said he’s heard positive feedback about the schedule change.

The new schedule is also subject to change when school begins again Sept. 2. Lane closures can’t hold up school buses. However, night work will continue, because daytime lane closures are prohibited May 15 to Sept. 30, although other daytime construction activities may continue.

No project is perfect, and this one began with one of the coldest, wettest winters Sussex County has seen in many years. Since beginning in January, the 901-day project has fallen behind its schedule by 29 days.

“It is slightly behind schedule. DelDOT’s hopeful productivity will continue throughout … fall,” Cimino said. “And with addition of Sunday evening, time that’s been lost can be recouped.”

Some good weather could hold the completion date, two years from now, steady.

“We continue to utilize every available day to progress this job to the end date of summer 2016,” Cimino said.

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

Construction zones are scattered throughout the four-plus-mile project, with drainage work in Ocean View, stormwater management ponds in Clarksville and Millville, and construction near Millville Town Hall and east of the Millville Town Center.