At a recent meeting, Milford City Council heard suggestions from Century Engineering to improve traffic flows and pedestrian safety in the area of the 10th Street and Rehoboth Boulevard intersection. Some of the suggestions included adding protected pedestrian and bicycle lanes, adding signals and converting two roads from two-way traffic to one-way.
“Primarily that area where the new Meineke is, the Dairy Queen and a couple of the other stores there,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said. “So primarily looking at that area trying to provide better connectivity from the residential areas up to the high school and middle school. So, the Dover Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) hired Century Engineering to perform this study, and they’ve been working with the city in the MPO over the last, I would say 10 or 11 months to finalize this study.”
Sonia Marichic, Associate Vice President for Century Engineering provided an overview of the various changes that could occur over the next 10 to 20 years with some options not proposed to go into effect until 2050.
“So, when we started this project, one of the main goals was to provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between the residential areas and the high school what we quickly found out was that there’s also an operational challenge or issue at this intersection where we were seeing a lot of volumes and some crash history,” Marichic said. “And so, we wanted to combine all of that and see what we could solve with our alternatives analysis. This was a project that was looked at in the Milford bicycle master plan. And so, as part of our recommendations, we did look at how could we cross bicyclists and pedestrians through the intersection we knew we wanted to keep them kind of on that east side. And we also knew that we wanted to avoid impacts to the Dairy Queen.”
Representatives from Dairy Queen, the new Meineke and Patty’s Nectars attended public workshops held in December and January regarding the upgrades. Marichic explained that crash data indicated there had been 43 crashes between 2017 and 2022 and that the peak time for crashes was at school dismissal, between two and three in the afternoon. Marichic also explained that they reviewed existing levels of service and found that delays at the lights in the area were already considered failure based on DelDOT requirements. She pointed out that there were some awkward turning requirements at the intersection near Dairy Queen.
“Cars are coming up, they almost have to do a U-turn and then almost another U-turn to get out to Rehoboth,” Marichic said. “What we heard at the workshops is “Yeah, I don’t do that. I just go through the parking lot.” So, I’m sure the owner of that property loves that. So, we wanted to look at how we could improve that as well. And then at the intersection itself, all the congestion and really the lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure which is very important since you know this is adjacent to a school.”
Initially, Marichic stated they attempted to square up the intersection and make it more traditional with turn lanes, but quickly found that was not going to meet the needs of both pedestrians and drivers. They also looked at a possible jug handle at Salevan Place, but that would impede truck traffic. Instead, the engineers developed a three phase process. The first would include adding one additional signal and curving the road onto Walnut which would allow the addition of a bicycle and pedestrian lane. A section of Church Street would be closed to vehicle traffic in order to create a protected bicycle and pedestrian lane.
“We would make a new connection from Church out to Salevan. So there were two houses that remain. They would be able to have their choice. They could go out to Walnut or they could go back through Salevan Place,” Marichic said. “And then the biggest change to Rehoboth Boulevard. So, for the most part, that stays how you’re anticipating it to kind of operate almost today except that the bicycle and pedestrian facilities are really separated from the roadway traffic and the lefts from Rehoboth Boulevard onto Northwest 10th Street are restricted. So traffic would then go up to Buccaneer and make the left. So, if you’re traveling on Rehoboth Boulevard you would make to kind of circulate and make that left turn you would actually go up to Buccaneer and make the left.”
Councilman Andy Fulton pointed out that a crosswalk in front of Dairy Queen had been removed, asking that it be added back in for the safety of high school students who frequent the business between school and sporting activities. Marichic stated that would be possible.
“I could jump in. I think the concern was trying to get something that could be done in the short term to help get people from residential areas over to the high school,” Pierce said. “I think once you start actually diving into the 10 Street intersection it gets a lot more expensive and may take a lot more resources and time to accomplish that project that we wanted to kind of see if we could phase this in to make it more manageable. But if we’re able to do the whole thing at once, we’ll probably attempt to do it but it really comes down to funding and the ability to work with the state on getting it implemented.”
One of the biggest changes to traffic in the area would likely not occur until as early as 2037 or as late as 2050 and that was changing Buccaneer Boulevard and Northwest 10th Street into paired one-way traffic. The change would have Northwest 10th Street converted to a one-way traveling east while Buccaneer Boulevard would be converted to one-way going west. James Puddicombe, City Engineer, pointed out that the city had applied for grant funding for the upgrades and if they received the grant, it could accelerate the timeline for the changes.
“So with Wawa, we did get a lot of discussion about Wawa,” Marichic said. “And what we heard from the community was that it’s very difficult to get into or out when there’s all the congestion. And so, this will help the circulation and make it easier to get in and out of the Wawa.”
Councilman Brian Baer stated that the changes would not make it easier to get in and out of Wawa if you were coming from the Third Ward, explaining that it was already difficult for residents in that ward to even get to the Public Works office in the industrial complex off of Airport Road due to congestion. He felt the changes would make the traffic pattern even worse.
“I concur with Councilman Baer on this. I don’t know. I would just like to get some more on making Tenth Street one way,” Councilman Jason James said. “It sounds simple. But you live here, and you see the movement that’s going to be prohibitive to people and I don’t know how it’s gonna affect the gentleman who just redid the carwash there and getting into Wawa.”
Marichic explained that the proposals were based on projections of traffic that may or may not exist by 2037, but that people might start avoiding businesses if they were concerned about accidents. If they had to take a more circuitous route that was safer, she felt they would be more likely to do that than risk an accident.
“As I’m trying to visualize this whole movement here, and to me, it’s just as complicated if you don’t go down 10th Street and you go down and you pass Buccaneer Drive or Boulevard? It’s just as congested to turn in that little road to go down where the pet stores are and all the banks and there’s so many different little stops there,” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said. “I see that as being just as congested as 10th Street almost. And what will happen is that, because it happens now, is people will go there’s a group of businesses before you get to Buccaneer Boulevard. There’s a group of businesses, there used to be podiatrists, and I think it’s an attorney’s office or whatever. People take that shortcut, which will put you right there by Domino’s parking. That’s going to become a hot area because people want to take the shortcut to cut through.”
Councilman Todd Culotta pointed out that there would soon be an Arby’s in that area as well which would add to traffic. Councilman Boyle asked if there had been any thought to simply widening the road and adding left turn lanes. Marichic stated that 10th Street was restricted as far as rights-of-way and that, although Buccaneer Boulevard could continue to handle two-way traffic, that option was less favorable on 10th Street.
“I have a question in reference to population extension of the high school because it’s crowded now,” Mayor Archie Campbell said. “And they’re going to take some of those students and move them to the new middle school, so that’d be less congestion.”
Councilman Fulton stated that he thought the new middle school was only going to house fifth graders, but Mayor Campbell and Councilman Boyle stated they thought it was fifth and sixth grade which would alleviate overcrowding at Milford Central Academy, not necessarily the high school.
“When school lets out, it’s an influx of people. Right? Like it’s a pinpoint and all these people are coming to that pinpoint,” Marichic said. “I just want to clarify, so the one way pairings are not required till 2037. But the implementation of the bulk of this plan does restrict lefts from Rehoboth onto 10th street from the beginning So, in this phase, you still would have to go up to Buccaneer but both Buccaneer and 10 Street are still two ways.”
Pierce stated that the study would be presented to Kent MPO and then to DelDOT who will look at the recommendations. They will then work with the community to decide which options to implement.
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