Cape Gazette

Tuesday Editorial

Route 1: A highway in search of a plan

Aug 13, 2013

Two meetings were held last week about safety on Route 1, but don’t think that means government has the answers yet.

If anything, the meetings demonstrate the state’s inefficiency in attacking urgent problems and its reluctance to develop constructive, long-term solutions.

The problem is Route 1 itself, both a gateway to Cape Region beaches and the region’s Main Street for shopping and entertainment. Outlets, eateries and offices line both sides of the road, yet to date there are only two crosswalks in a stretch from Five Points to Rehoboth Beach.

In the past year, the accidents waiting to happen began happening.

Despite calls for action, no new crosswalks were added this summer; officials didn’t even install a temporary sign urging drivers to slow down, not to mention better lighting at key intersections.

Instead, at the first of last week’s meetings, DelDOT officials promised that after years of delays, they finally obtained needed rights of way and are set to install 14 pedestrian-controlled crosswalks.

Then at the second meeting, officials announced an average of 80,000 cars now use Route 1 daily, and we all know daily counts don’t describe summer weekend events. Even so, do officials really believe 80,000 drivers will patiently navigate 14 pedestrian-controlled crosswalks?

Officials offer two views of Route 1: It’s either a beach boulevard, with two traffic lanes and wider pedestrian and cycling lanes, or it’s a highway, with access roads instead of direct access to shopping from the highway.

The Cape Region’s primary artery is in serious trouble, but these visions are both too limited to fix it. Officials should throw out old models and piecemeal plans – crosswalks, a transportation hub, Destination Station outside Rehoboth to name a few – and bring in a bold, new, comprehensive design for this thoroughfare.

Cape Region tourism plays an essential role in Delaware’s economy, but that will continue only if the state invests in critical infrastructure so tourists will continue to choose to come here.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Greg and Terri Kordal | Aug 13, 2013 09:36

These issues are confirmation that any approval of the Love Creek RV resort, which would bring additional traffic to Route 1, would be absurd.  County officials must refrain from agreeing to the conditional use applications of Lingo Asset Management.  It is critical that all measures must be taken to minimize extra vehicle traffic on Route 1 - no less for these huge RV's.  County officials should strongly participate in the planning for this major thoroughfare - including hiring the county planner for a start. 

The tourism industry will be negatively affected by the trafic issues - I bet many visitors from this season will think twice about returning next year.  Way too many traffic delays.  The proposed RV visitors will not help the local businesses like the vacationers who use local hotels/stores/restaurants/etc. - plus will add to the safety concerns.    Band aids are not the answer - we agree that a bold/comprehensive plan is needed.  Local officials must strongly weigh in before we waste money and time on small attempts to fix this issue.  They must also contribute to the solution by voting no to the RV CITY proposal.

Posted by: Barry Wayne Price | Aug 14, 2013 08:02

I have known this stretch of Route One for nearly 50 years. I have seen it transferred from bucolic country life to the shopping mecca it has become. The demographics have been known for decades. Official Sussex, and Delaware did little to plan for the fast pace growth. I'm afraid that we are stuck with what it has become, and anything that 'they' can come up with will merely be too little, too late. I feel the priority should be on Northern access to Nassau. Salvage what remains untouched, and streamline the highway from Dover to Lewes. Do not allow any more business direct access, get rid of any red lights that remain. Create bottleneck free traffic flow. This should include Rt. 113, and Rt. 13 as well. There have been added access very recently for Redner's in Milford, Lowes (not one but two) lights in Millsboro. This has to stop. As for the congested areas of these highways going through what has become parts of Milford, Seaford, Laurel, Lewes, Rehoboth, and Millsboro; perhaps loops of by pass could be developed in the future. Anytime people are stopped from reaching their destination, tempers flare, impatience is elevated, and dangerous conditions are created. All of this requires long term planning. Since it wasn't done from the get, there is no reason not to begin planning today.

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