By Terry Rogers
Two intersections on Route 1 in Milford may soon see changes in an effort to address concerns from residents about safety. According to Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) officials, both the intersection at NE Tenth Street and at NE Front Street could see new traffic patterns in preparation for an overpass spanning NE Front Street to New Wharf Road.
“We have developed a plan that we believe will help with some of the traffic problems at these two intersections,” Mark Luszcz, Assistant Director of Traffic in DelDOT’s Transportation Solutions Department. “This is an interim solution that began with requests from residents and legislators in the area to make those intersections safer.”
Mr. Luszcz said that the NE Front Street intersection would be closed to crossing traffic. Motorists coming from Miflord would be required to turn south on Route 1 and make a u-turn at the next crossover in order to travel northbound on the highway. Motorists traveling south on Route 1 would still be able to turn right onto NE Front Street. At the NE Tenth Street intersection, motorists leaving areas east of Route 1 would be able to cross the highway to travel into Milford. However, motorists leaving Milford who wish to cross Route 1 would have to turn south and make a u-turn at the next crossover in order to head north or to turn onto New Wharf Road on the east side of Route 1.
“This cleans up conflicts drivers have at those intersections,” Mr.Luszcz said. “By restricting cross movements, we feel that this makes the intersections much safer.” According to Geoff Sundstrom, Director of Public Relations for DelDOT, the proposal has not been finalized as public information meetings must be held before final approval. In addition, Mr. Sundstrom said he was trying to connect with officials at Carlisle Fire Company who expressed concerns about the closure of the intersection.
In addition to concerns expressed by the fire company, other area residents have expressed concerns about the changes to the intersection. Brendon Warfel, whose company offices are located close to the intersection on Northeast Front Street, said that he had issues with the proposal.
“The proposed changes for the intersection are not going to make it any safer or simpler,” Mr. Warfel said. “All of their proposals can already be done voluntarily, which, during heavy traffic we choose to do. But that is less than 10 percent of the year, so the other 90 percent of the year, this would not be our best option.” Mr. Warfel felt that the intersection changes will adversely affect not only his business, but also be detrimental to Hitchens Tire Center which is located directly next to Route 1 at the intersection.
Emmett Venett, a resident of Woods Haven, has been outspoken about the dangers of the two intersections for many years. According to Mr. Venett, an overpass has been promised to residents in the area for many years, but the project keeps getting delayed. At a recent meeting with DelDOT officials, Mr. Venett said that the project, which had been very low on the state’s priority list less than a year ago, had been moved to second on the list of priorities, but that no money had been allocated for construction at this point.
Thomas Banez, Project Manager for DelDOT, confirmed that federal money had been allocated to begin the process of securing right-of-way rights that would be necessary for the construction of the overpass. He also confirmed that, at this time, no money had been allocated for constructing the new overpass. Drew Boyce, Director of Planning for DelDOT said that it would take as much as two years for the right-of-way rights to be obtained.
“We are moving forward with the project so that it is shovel-ready as soon as construction funding is allocated,” said Mr. Boyce. “We want everything in place so that as soon as we have the funds, we can begin constructing this overpass.”
Mr. Venett said that although he is pleased that the overpass has been made a higher priority with DelDOT, the current proposal to close the intersections, similar to what was done at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 30 before that overpass was completed, is not acceptable to residents of Woods Haven who already have difficulty crossing the highway to enter the city. Officials say that when public hearings are scheduled, notification will be made and they encourage all who have questions, concerns or suggestions to attend those meetings.
SR 1, NE Front, NE 10th, Interim Improvements