Traffic signals to be removed near City Hall

Terry RogersGovernment, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

The traffic lights at this intersection and Causey Avenue will be removed

After a studying traffic patterns and delays at two intersections in downtown Milford, Century Engineering is recommending to DelDOT and the city that traffic signals at the corner of Causey Avenue and Walnut Street as well as at Southeast and Southwest Front Street be removed permanently.

“Particularly with new people on council, we felt we needed to explain how this project came about. The city looked at two specific things. One, we’re the only city in the state of Delaware that operates traffic signals. All other cities within the state of Delaware have turned over their traffic signals to DelDOT. DelDOT is much better equipped to handle the servicing of traffic signals, ‘Mark Whitfield, City Manager, said. “It’s a huge liability on the city to even attempt to try to maintain traffic signals. And DelDOT again is much better equipped to do that. When we did that, we met with DelDOT and one of the things they said is “yes, we’ll take over your traffic signals however, you need to bring them up to standards.” So that had us look at all the traffic signals and what we would have to spend in order to bring the traffic signal up to standards in order for DelDOT to take them over.”

Whitfield continued, stating that the city was dealing with Southwest Front Street which was previously a one-way street heading westbound.

“We have plans to redo the bridge where the old fire station used to sit. The bridge is in very bad shape. It has a currently has a three ton weight limit, and I often see fairly large trucks going over the bridge as I hold my breath as they do so,” Whitfield said. “But one of the issues that we had is when trucks turned onto that street off of Walnut Street, they were kind of caught in no man’s land because technically they would have to go the wrong way on a one way street to come back out. We knew we were faced with having to make the decision of how do we make this a two way street. In order to do that, we would have to upgrade the signal.”

Upgrading the signal could have cost the city as much as $750,000 which led DelDOT to inquire whether the city had checked into the need for the traffic signal. DelDOT suggested that the signal undergo review to see if it was necessary. The city then hired Century Engineering to determine whether a traffic signal was required at that intersection as well as at the Causey Avenue intersection. Tyler Hartman, Traffic Design Manager at Central Engineering, provided details on the study they conducted which has led to a recommendation the signals be removed.

“We looked at the volumes you are seeing on the road with existing traffic control, crash analysis and delays,” Hartman said. “There are nine different warrants. These warrants go from, is there a railroad near it? Is there a school near the actual intersection? Is there no volume over 12 hours, no volume of peak hour?  So, what we did was we did data collection, we went ahead and found that none of the warrants were actually met for the actual signal. And as we were doing that, we actually investigated what it would mean to actually introduce a bidirectional road on Southwest Front Street, because the whole purpose was to try and expedite that process.”

Hartman explained that Walnut Street is a major collector with about 3,600 vehicles on that road each day, traveling 25 miles per hour. Southeast Front Street is also a major artery with 4,600 vehicles per day at 25 miles per hour. Southwest Front Street had no data as it is a local roadway, so DelDOT does not collect statistics for those. The company also looked at delays after the removal of the signals.

“What we do is say what is the average amount of delay that a vehicle will incur at every approach, and we grade them,” Hartman said. “For instance, if the average delay is 10 to 15 seconds, you get a “B” and so on.  Based on what we observed, there were only two times when the intersection got a “C” with the rest all earning an “A” or “B.” Therefore, delays were not significant.”

Hartman presented a chart which showed the longest delay observed at the intersection was less than four seconds while the longest was just over 20 seconds. Hartman then discussed crash data that was collected.

“We did find that there was one crash beforehand that was actually susceptible to traffic control, so having the traffic light there or not would not have mattered,” Hartman said. “After the signals were removed, there was one hit-and-run crash that had an unknown cause. And then we had a really strange occurrence where we had the exact same type of crash that happened before and after. Right in front of Jesus Love Temple, a car backed into another vehicle. This happened once before and once after, but we have no idea why.”

Whitfield explained that the next step would be to put an item in the Capital Improvement Plan to officially remove the traffic signals. Hartman asked about decorative items on the light poles to which Whitfield replied the city would handle removing those.

“I’m just trying to keep one person from throwing anything into the river,” Whitfield said, referring to a comment made by then-Councilman, now Mayor Todd Culotta during the initial discussion about removing the signals.




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