The second phase of a project that will expand Del. 1 from six lanes to eight began August 6, and commuters are already feelings its effects.
“They cut the lanes down,” said commuter Meghan Dunn, “and it takes longer for me to get anywhere.”
At the second phase’s onset, one lane adjoining the median in each direction between Five Points and Del. 24 was closed to allow crews to reconstruct the median. The main resort thoroughfare was temporarily reduced by two lanes.
Drainage and curb ramps were installed during the first phase of construction, which began in September 2006. When the project is complete, Del. 1 will have three through lanes in each direction as well as fourth lane restricted to buses, bikes and right turns only, said Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman Darrel Cole. The improvements aim to make the road safer for bikers and bus commuters.
"When you open a through lane, you improve the congestion," Cole said.
Cole said DelDOT officials want to have the project completed by April because of the popularity of Delaware beaches.
"We only have a short amount of time to do construction before the winter," he said.
Prior to the start of the project, weekend beach travel already consisted of bumper-to-bumper traffic and long delays just to get to a restaurant or shopping mall. Residents know that the delays will become longer, and traffic will be even more congested.
“I think they should stick to doing the construction during the school year when there are less tourists," Dunn said.
DelDOT suggests motorists travel during off-peak times when entering or leaving the area, avoid the construction area from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and take alternate routes, such as U.S. 113 and Del. 26.