DelDOT bypasses overpass construction

Agency says a few traffic improvements around State Rte. 7, U.S. 40 are needed prior to new shopping center opening

Bridges News The News Journal August 02, 2011
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Construction of a new shopping center is not going to open up a line for potential bidders of a new overpass.

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced on Aug. 1 that the proposed Governor’s Square III Shopping Center could survive without a multi-million-dollar overpass of State Rte. 7 over U.S. 40.

Back in March it looked like DelDOT was leaning toward the new construction so the intersection could maintain required traffic-service levels. However, following review of DelleDonne’s traffic-impact study, the agency has decided not to take any action. In fact, according to DelDOT, congestion at the intersection actually dropped between 2009 and 2010.

“DelDOT knows the announcement will be controversial, but for our agency the key considerations must be whether our decision is data-driven, and does it conform to state law,” said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt. “The answer is ‘yes’ on both counts.”

The tipping point for congestion at an intersection is for a vehicle to be stopped for 55 seconds at peak evening drive times. According to Bhatt, the delay through routes 7 and 40 currently stood at 53.6 seconds.

However, there is expected to be a strong dose of road improvements prior to the opening of the shopping center. DelDOT said county officials should adhere to suggestions made by DelleDonne, which include:

• Widening Rte. 7 to four lanes from Newtown Road to a point north of Rivers End Drive;

• Extending the southbound left-turn lanes at 7 and 40 to 725 ft; and

• Improving intersections and adding traffic lights along Rte. 7.

Not all of the local residents were satisfied with DelDOT’s conclusions.

“This is just DelDOT caving in and creating a truly hazardous situation at the intersection of 7 and 40,” Jack Dirr, a representative of nearby St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, said. “You can tailor a study for specific days and times, but the fact of the matter is that it’s an incredibly busy intersection.”

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