DelDOT explains multiple road closures in Milford

Terry RogersBusiness, Government, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

Road construction continues in downtown Milford with some businesses dealing with parking issues (Photo courtesy of Arena’s)

Social media in the area is filled with residents and business owners complaining about three road construction projects that have closed or slowed traffic. Northeast Front Street, Walnut Street and North Washington Street were all closed at one point in March.

“The Northwest and Northeast Front Street Screetscape Improvements project began May 1, 2023 and will be completed this spring,” Charles “C.R.” McLeod, Director of Community Relations at DelDOT said. “Final curb and pavement work will take place on the north and south side of Northeast Front Street east of east street.”

Milford City Council approved the project unanimously at their September 14, 2022, meeting after City Manager Mark Whitfield explained that the project came in well under with the city only required to cover $429,000 rather than $800,000.

“The project includes the reconstruction of existing curbs, curb ramps, sidewalks installation of new curbs, curb ramps, sidewalks as needed and pavement mill and overlay, lighting, landscaping and environmental improvements,” McLeod said.

As for the Washington Street closure, McLeod explained that this was also part of the TAP project. The closure was short, however.

“Washington Street reopened on Friday, March 29,” McLeod said. “The project was originally to be completed by December 2023, however, work related to the ADA improvements extended beyond the original time estimate and the final paving of the road surface could not occur until after winter.”

Artist rendering of completed Walnut Street bridge which is under construction

The one project that is city managed is the Walnut Street bridge. This bridge stretches from Kent County to Sussex County in the center of town. According to Mark Whitfield, City Manger, the street experiences a considerable number of speeders in the late afternoon and evening. The project includes raising the bridge slightly in an effort to slow traffic, adding ADA compliant features to make it easier for those with mobility issues to access the Riverwalk on both sides of the river as well as some aesthetic upgrades to beautify the center of downtown. This project was also unanimously approved by council.

McLeod stated that the new design would also have a mid-block pedestrian crossing that would provide better pedestrian safety as they crossed from one side of the Riverwalk to the other.

“The Walnut Street bridge is a city managed project,” McLeod said. “It closed on March 18 and will be closed through the end of April, with the project expected to be completed by mid-May.”

Whitfield also stated that the contract for the bridge included a clause that it had to be completed by April 27, the day of the Bug and Bud Festival. Businesses downtown have been sharing maps of the downtown area with their business highlighted compared to parking. Northeast Front Street is open but there are lane closures periodically that can slow traffic. There are several city parking lots in downtown Milford that provide close access to the downtown area.

Map provided on social media by Arena’s directing traffic to an alternate entrance to their parking lot during road construction (Photo courtesy of Arena’s)

A parking study conducted in 2019 by Dover/Kent County Metropolitan Planning Organization found that there are approximately 1,757 parking spaces in downtown, although about 1,000 of them were private lots. Of those that were public, 327 were on-street while the remaining 433 were public parking. The closure of the Walnut Street bridge only eliminated around 6-10 spaces on each side of the street. Although there are barriers at each end of the street, vehicles are able to drive onto each end to find street parking before reaching the barriers at the construction site.

In 2016, Arnette, Muldrow & Associates presented the Riverwalk Rebirth plan which also included a parking study. At that time, Ben Muldrow pointed out that there was ample parking, but better signage was necessary to direct people where to park, something the 2019 study found was still an issue. Muldrow explained that lack of parking was a “perception problem” as downtown Milford was not yet a destination in 2015, comparing it to Lewes and Rehoboth where people will park blocks away because they have multiple reasons to visit. For many in the area, the lack of signage directing them to traffic remained a problem in 2024. Businesses, however, are trying to keep the public informed about areas where parking is readily available.

Map provided on social media by Red Bandana showing nearby parking locations (Photo courtesy of Red Bandana)

“We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the work occurring on our street. Between the multiple areas of construction in town, and one-way streets, we understand that finding your way to us might be more difficult than usual,” Red Bandana, a comic and collectibles store, posted on social media. “We made a quick little map to show you where to park, and how to get to us! All 3 parking lots are less than 500ft from the shop!” Irish Rose, Cultured Plate and other businesses have also posted about available parking.

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