Public meeting addresses safety and savings on Route 26

Date Published: 
April 11, 2014

At the first monthly public meeting for the State Route 26 Mainline Project, the Construction Advisory Group discussion revolved around the impact on side roads. In fact, Route 26 itself wasn’t the biggest concern for local resident Susan Ash. She wanted to know at the April 8 meeting about safety on the back roads being used as alternatives.

Powell Farm Road had two fatal car collisions in a one-month period, at Burbage Road and Route 17. Although those weren’t specifically part of Delaware Department of Transportation’s alternative routes, it’s only a matter of time before drivers use those roads to avoid Route 26 roadwork, she said.

Ash’s chief concern was about non-local people who are unfamiliar with the roads. She asked if speed limits would decrease. Not at this time, DelDOT officials said, although they are aware of the problem, since Route 17 and Powell Farm Road have already been sent to the State’s Traffic Review program.

“We do have a monitoring plan in place,” said chief engineer Jill Frey of Century Engineering. “We are aware of traffic accidents [recently and] in the past.”

Although “Route 17 has been a concern for a long time,” the design and flashing light meet design standards, they said. “Beyond that, it’s really an enforcement issue,” said Tom Banez, DelDOT project manager.

Sitting in the audience nearby, Delaware State Police Lt. Tracy Condon spoke up.

“Stop-sign violations are big [in that area],” said Condon, adding that she could increase officer patrols there.

At least three accidents resulted from a driver’s failure to stop or remain stopped when travelling eastbound at those intersections.

Another audience member suggested rumble strips be installed to slow drivers down.

Ash also asked about a proposed traffic circle at the Millville By the Sea community. Banez said that design has changed, but he noted it would have slowed traffic.

Excavation findings could save $100K

Unexpected developments arose for the project at Central Avenue, which has been closed on both sides of the Route 26 intersection in Ocean View. Part of the 24-inch sewer main there was to be replaced to make room for a stormwater drainage system.

However, upon excavation, it appears that the “utility is sufficiently deep,” said Ken Cimino, AECOM’s on-site public outreach coordinator. So it shouldn’t need to be moved after all, he said.

Designers and contractors have rushed instead to plan an alternative design that protects the existing force main utility during storm drain installation.

That could mean a faster and cheaper installation at Central Avenue.

“It could be almost $100,000 in savings if it works,” Cimino said.

Aside from the Route 26 intersection, Central Avenue is still open to local traffic from Fred Hudson Road to Cedar Drive, although a detour is required to get there. The detour routes are posted.

Route 26 also has a new temporary curve around construction there. Traffic shouldn’t be severely impacted and lane closures aren’t expected, said Mike Delp of George & Lynch.

Night work to begin

in May

“Past Memorial Day, you’ll see some activities begin to move into night work,” Frey noted.

Night work may begin May 15 and run until Sept. 30, as lane closures are only permitted between 7 p.m. on Mondays and 5 a.m. on Fridays during that summer season.

Lane shifts will be used from Tuesdays to Thursdays, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But from Friday morning to Monday night, there will be no lane closures, shoulder closures or even lane shifts allowed.

“If every winter we have is like this winter, it will be pushed back,” Frey noted of the project timetable. “We’ll try to make access to businesses the best it can be.”

The original completion date for the work was June 24, 2016.

Much of the calendar is “not nailed down yet,” in terms of exactly when construction will occur in specific places, Frey said.

Construction zone

seeing lane closures

Flaggers have already been directing alternating traffic through lane closures on Route 26 — sometimes multiple closures at the same time. Currently, roadwork occurs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Other work being done includes utility relocation, saw-cutting of the roadway and installation of roadway drainage pipe. Utility pole relocations should only take a few more months.

The Clarksville pump station west of Irons Lane is complete. After cleanup, workers have until May 15 to relocate two sanitary sewer force mains. That work cannot be done in the summer season. Sewer work should not affect any current sewer users.

Asked about potholes on Woodland Avenue, Cimino said the road belongs to Ocean View, but contractors are communicating with the Town for a solution.

Regular Route 26 project meetings will continue, on the second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. at Bethany Beach Town Hall. The public is being encouraged to attend or to get email updates from DelDOT via the project page for the Route 26 project at www.deldot.gov.

At least two of those who attended this week’s meeting said they were pleased with the public outreach and “persistence” in getting the job done.

“Please give us your feedback. It is important. It allows us to make adjustments,” Frey and Cimino emphasized. “If you see something that isn’t quite right, let us know. Pick up the phone or send an email.”

For additional Route 26 questions or concerns, residents and businesses can contact Ken Cimino at (302) 616-2621, or Kenneth.cimino@aecom.com or at 17 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 2, in Ocean View.