On Monday, August 24, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced that the traffic light at Thompsonville road and Route 1 is scheduled to be removed on September 14, 2015 at 7 am. According to a press release issued by DelDOT, the removal of the light is necessary due to the construction of the Thompsonville interchange.
“We need to remove the light as it is in the way of construction,” said Greg Layton, DelDOT Community Relations Director. The removal is planned to help facilitate completion of the majority of the earthwork before the winter and could mean the project may be completed prior to the summer traffic surge in 2017.
Many residents have already expressed concerns about the removal of the light, especially for those who live in the area and often use that light to enter Route 1 to head both north and southbound.
“I live right on Route 1 and trying to get out from the side road to go left, it is hard when it is bumper-to-bumper,” Jean Elizabeth Blankenship posted on Facebook. “Thompsonville light is the only thing that helps for people to get on route 1 when traffic is bad an I travel this way every day to go to work. I think it is bad to remove the light.”
In the press release, DelDOT officials said that recent studies indicated that the removal of the light did not appear to create significant gaps in traffic at Northeast Tenth or Northeast Front Street, located further south on Route 1. DelDOT said that it had monitored traffic in the area and were unable to correlate the presence of gaps to the light at Thompsonville. Instead, the agency found that 30 to 40 percent of southbound traffic exits at Route 113 and is the predominate generator of gaps in the southbound traffic at those intersections while northbound traffic exiting at Route 1 and Route 30 is the key generator of gaps there.
“We know residents are concerned that this will cause problems at those intersections, but our studies indicate it will not cause much of a problem,” Mr. Layton said.
Emmett Vennett, a resident of Woods Haven, who has been outspoken about the dangers of the Northeast Front and Northeast Tenth Street intersections, says that the residents appreciate DelDOT’s study of the area, but that he does not concur with the results of the study.
“Over the past several years, we have raised the issue and they always concurred in our assertion that Thompsonville created the gaps we needed,” Mr. Vennett said. “Now, all of a sudden, they perform due diligence. Let’s hope for the lives of our citizens they are correct, notwithstanding their data which showed our intersections are far more dangerous than Thompsonville and Bowers, and of course, the sports complex planned.”
Other community member also question the need to remove the light at Thompsonville when other lights on Route 1 do not seem to cause traffic problems.
“How is it that the lights further up the highway, Bowers and the one five seconds north by High Point, don’t totally mess up traffic,” posted Gayle P. Coleman. “Yet, this one little light that only changes when tripped can cause such a total cluster. I just don’t get it.” Jason Smith asked how people who lived in the Thompsonville area were supposed to survive trying to cross the highway during the Summer of 2016 if the overpass is not scheduled to be complete until Spring 2017.
Further information is expected from DelDOT in the next few days regarding the removal of the light.