By Terry Rogers
When DelDOT announced several months ago that Route 113 would be closed for several weeks in May in order to repair the railroad tracks just south of Route 14, they told the City that their anticipated completion date was May 19. At a workshop presented to Milford City Council in April, DelDOT officials said that there could be delays, including weather, that might lengthen the closure.
“We will do our best to get it completed by Memorial Day,” Bob Perrine, DelDOT railroad program manager told Council. “We make absolutely no promises, but we will do our best.”
Crews worked around the clock on the tracks to complete major repairs to the railroad tracks on the highway which had been damaged so badly trains had to stop and be “walked” across the tracks at the highway. On Thursday, May 18, DelDOT announced that the railroad tracks opened for traffic at approximately 3 PM that day, one day ahead of schedule.
“The Delaware Department of Transportation announces that Delmarva Central Railroad has completed the construction of their railroad crossing ahead of schedule on US 113/DuPont Highway between SR 14/Milford-Harrington Highway and Kings Highway in Milford. US 113 is anticipated to open between the hours of 3 PM and 5 PM today,” a press release from DelDOT read.
Almost as soon as the tracks opened, social media was filled with motorists reporting that the highway had reopened, ending the snarled traffic that had existed through the downtown area for two weeks. Throughout the construction phase, people travellng through Milford reported delays and heavy traffic that extended their commute.
“Since downtown is now so busy due to the construction, this light needs to go one side at a time,” Sheri Messick posted with a photo of the traffic light at Front and Walnut Streets in downtown Milford. “I’ve sat at this light six times now because the person in line needed to turn left.” Motorists reported significant traffic snarls on Kings Highway, Seabury Avenue, Clarke Avenue, Front Street and Walnut Street during the highway closure.
Not everyone in Milford saw the closed railroad track as a negative. “It’s nice to see so many people driving through our town to check out what all the buzz is about!,” David Vezmar posted. “Hopefully, local businesses can capitalize on the increased traffic.”
The highway was closed to both north and southbound traffic in order for Delmarva Central Railroad to repair tracks that had been significantly damaged by vehicle traffic. DelDOT reported that both sides of the highway needed to close as the metal being replaced in the tracks had to be one solid piece that stretched across both sides of the road.
The tracks were last repaired in 1981, but that repair did not change the drainage system within the tracks. The repairs that began May 4 were designed to replace the track, improve drainage in the area and improve the road surface. DelDOT said they had a 96-hour window from Delmarva Central to get the tracks operational gain so that trains could run again.
Motorists who traveled over the new surface at the tracks reported it was a much smoother ride than prior to the repairs. However, motorists are cautioned that the railroad signals have not yet been reinstalled, although they are expected to be as soon as possible. There are caution signs warning motorists that there are no signals at the tracks. Under federal law, the railroad must provide a method to warn motorists if a train is approaching. According to Delmarva Central Railroad officials, trains will be stopped before the crossing and will be escorted by railroad officials through the intersection as crews close off Route 113 vehicular traffic. This will be done until the signals are installed.
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