Cannon: More alternatives outlined for Del. 20 intersections


Wow! As a friend said, “You’ve really touched a raw nerve” by asserting that four all-way stop controls on a 10-mile stretch of Del. 20 between Hardscrabble and Millsboro are the wrong answer(s) from Delaware Department of Transportation planners to traffic concerns at those intersections (“Four new stops along Del. 20 further choke eastbound traffic,” Aug. 17).

The sheer volume of respondents reflects important and growing attention being paid to regulation of traffic in Sussex County, especially when it appears to be strangling west-to-east traffic flow.

DelDOT’s public relations department* was good enough to send me a rather generic explanation of some of its policies. Even we nonexpert traffic observers certainly expected to see and did see that the stop controls’ slowdown “solutions” would significantly diminish the severity of traffic accidents.

However, without more specific information** about the Del. 20 intersections, the actual need(s) for each of these new stops remains in question. For example, what we need are the traffic impacts of the locations and the numbers and sizes of new “residential subdivisions” feeding these intersections — a reason cited by the department as justification*** for the new all-way stops.

Absent contrary data, common sense suggests that the vast majority of accidents/incidents are not caused by travelers using Del. 20. Instead, common sense suggests most accidents are caused by drivers using roads intersecting Del. 20.

Recognizing that, several writers have suggested a variety of alternative means of alerting and/or controlling traffic approaching Del. 20. Relatively inexpensive, but serious, rumble strips could be installed and monitored for effectiveness. Depending on the success of rumble strips, more expensive and attention-getting measures like flashing red lights and cameras could be added, as necessary. If these combined measures are deemed less than successful, roundabouts could slow, but not stop, traffic — perhaps achieving both safety and convenience goals simultaneously.

The current use of the all-way stops on Del. 20 seems to be a cheap overkill “solution,” without attempting to use and evaluate less restrictive, intermediate measures like those listed above.

For these reasons, I have again requested that DelDOT review the “criteria” and recommendations that allegedly support the current strategy of these stops along Del. 20 and undo/redo some of the unjustified changes to Del. 20 travel in favor of less restrictive alternatives.

Finally, let’s not forget the big picture: Recent Del. 20 restrictions are symptomatic of some much larger west-to-east travel problems in Sussex County, including the traverse mess on U.S. 113 through Millsboro and the Georgetown-to-Lewes corridor strangulation along U.S. 9.

Northern Delaware residents certainly appreciate the millions spent for roads, such as the ones allowing them to circumvent/avoid tolls on the Sen. William V. Roth Bridge over the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

Sussex County residents could use and would appreciate some similar largess for sensible remediation of our traffic problems from transportation planners, not just more traffic flow impediments, like all-way stops, stoplights, no-passing zones, etc.

* Contact

** Including Department of Transportation “historical studies” of the intersections to include the number and timing of traffic from each side of each intersection over time; the actual number and kind of traffic incidents at each intersection over time; the numbers and percentages of drivers traveling along Del. 20 and those entering Del. 20 from each intersection responsible for the traffic incidents; etc.

*** “Reducing the annual number of total crashes by approximately 70%, angle crashes by approximately 80%, fatal type crashes by approximately 75% and injury-type crashes by 90% … at locations outside of a residential subdivision.”

Dan Cannon


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