By Terry Rogers
On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, First Ward Councilman Bryan Shupe arranged a public hearing at the Milford Public Library in order to inform residents about DelDOT’s progress on the overpass project at the intersection of Coastal Highway (Route 1), Cedar Creek Road (Route 30) and Wilkins Road (Route 206). On hand to answer questions from the public were Louise Holt, from DelDOT’s Public Relations Department, and Brad Saborio, DelDOT South Group Engineer. Councilman Shupe opened the meeting, explaining that since construction began on the project, many constituents had contacted him asking for information, such as the effect road construction would have on residents in the area, and an anticipated completion date. According to Mr. Saborio, DELDOT Construction Manager, the project began on December 3, 2012, and the anticipated completion date is January 2014, as long as the weather remains mild.
The purpose of the overpass is to improve capacity and safety at the intersection. The intersection was identified during a Highway Safety Improvement Program analysis as needing safety improvements due to the frequency and severity of accidents at the location. A bridge, as well as on and off ramps, will be added to the intersection. After completion, drivers will access Wilkins Road by two ramps on the west side of Route 1, while Cedar Neck Road will be accessed by two ramps on the east side of Route 1. The intersection at Wilkins Road (Route 206) and Coastal Highway (Route 1) will be closed completely once the new access ramps are completed.
Mr. Saborio said that two of the ramps are near completion and DelDOT expects to open them the week of August 12, allowing them to close the access point completely. Once the intersection is closed, construction of the bridge will begin. Construction has already begun in the median for the pier, and piles are already being driven as the foundation for that pier. After the pier is complete, construction on the bridge will begin, as will construction on the intersection at Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road in order to bring the road to the elevation of the bridge.
DELDOT anticipates a slight traffic pattern change over the next two or three weeks. Traffic will be permitted through the area, but they anticipate the road being reduced to one lane, with flaggers directing traffic. In addition, lane closures will be required on Coastal Highway, but DelDOT plans to do so Tuesday through Thursday, keeping all lanes open Friday through Monday to avoid beach traffic delays. The hearing was opened to the public for any questions after Mr. Saborio presented the project specifics.
Some of the questions pertained to road and intersection closures that could restrict residents’ access to Milford. According to Mr. Saborio, the west side access of Wilkins Road and Cedar Creek Road would only be closed for approximately a month or so. Residents of Hearthstone Manor and Mattlinds Estates expressed concerns regarding access to their subdivisions. Mr. Saborio explained that when the intersection is closed, detours would be posted directing traffic to Hearthstone Manor. In all probability, traffic would exit Coastal Highway onto Johnson Road, then to Elks Lodge Road to get to the subdivision. Because changes must be made to the entrance at Mattlinds Estates, DelDOT will close half the entrance at a time so that residents and visitors may still access the subdivision.
Residents asked that DelDOT do a better job of communicating the road closures in the area in order to inform the public of possible traffic delays. Mr. Saborio said that DelDOT tries to get the information to the media. In addition DelDOT has a mobile phone application so drivers with a smartphone can get updates and traffic alerts quickly.
Another resident questioned whether there would be a traffic light or four-way stop sign at the intersection of Cedar Creek Road and Wilkins Road. Mr. Saborio reported that there would be a signal installed at the intersection. There was also a request that signs be installed at the northbound off-ramp that joins Rehoboth Boulevard just before the Meadows at Shawnee that forbids u-turns and alerts truck drivers that trucks are not permitted in the development. In addition, the resident pointed out that many trucks are making illegal u-turns from Coastal Highway in order to access Wilkins Road/Cedar Creek Road. They suggested extending the barrier to make it impossible for trucks to make this illegal u-turn as a safety measure. Mr. Saborio said he would look into the problem and try to implement a solution. Mr. Saborio also explained that John Gaines, DelDOT Project Manager, would discuss water drainage problems in the area along with City Manager Richard Carmean to see what could be done to alleviate standing water on the roadway.
Disclosure: Councilman Shupe is the co-owner and editor-in-chief of MilfordLIVE.com and The Milford Review. Per company policy, Mr. Shupe had no input on this story, which was written by Terry Rogers and edited by Milford Review publisher Dave Burris.