Route 1 improvements finally on the way
Delaware Department of Transportation officials say long-awaited pedestrian improvements to Route 1 are finally on the way. Several improvements were already in DelDOT’s capital transportation program and are scheduled within the next two years.
It is a tragedy that while these projects were rising to the top of DelDOT’s list, seven fatal traffic accidents occurred in the Route 1 corridor, making the $10.3 million plan for improvements welcome news to anyone who drives on the Cape Region’s central thoroughfare. Topping the list of improvements is a project to improve lighting and fill gaps to provide continuous sidewalks on both sides of the highway all the way from Five Points to Bay Vista, just south of Rehoboth Beach.
The plan also addresses a critical lack of signaled crosswalks. DelDOT plans to add 12 more crosswalks at intersections that already have lights yet offer no clear path for pedestrians. Establishing crosswalks and shining bright lights on them should go a long way toward improving pedestrian and bicycle safety along this dangerous stretch, where cars speed by and drivers simply fail to see people darting across the highway. Even so, these changes will help only if pedestrians use crosswalks instead of dodging vehicles, shopping bags in hand, as they try to cross six lanes of traffic.
DelDOT officials are also reviewing a Route 1 intersection just north of Midway, where southbound cars cross three lanes of traffic to access the Bay Crossing development. That crossing is not signaled; it was the site of two accidents including a motorcycle death last year. Even if a new signal is not warranted, the intersection should be improved so southbound traffic has a better view of oncoming traffic. DelDOT officials have also promised a committee of police, cycling advocates and transportation officials will review ways to improve cycling safety in the Route 1 corridor. That plan should focus on routes that would allow cyclists to access the popular shopping area without riding on Route 1. DelDOT’s plans are a great step forward to improve the Cape Region’s Main Street. These improvements are vital to pedestrian and cycling safety – and to everyone’s peace of mind.