Between 100 and 125 people attended a workshop hosted by DelDOT at the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach to offer an overview of the Route 26 widening project that will start later this year.
DelDOT Project Manager Tom Banez says the work to widen Route 26 between Clarksville and the Assawoman Canal will start after Thanksgiving, likely in early to mid-December, and is scheduled to be last for two and a half to three years, wrapping up by the summer or fall of 2016. DelDOT says the winning bid will be announced within the next week or so. Preliminary work for the project began last year, when DelDOT started working with Delmarva Power, Verizon and Mediacom to begin moving utility wires away from where the work will be done. Once work does begin, DelDOT will work to minimize the impacts during peak traffic times. During the peak summer season of May 15 through September 30, there will be lane shifts and closures between 7 o'clock Monday nights and 6 o'clock Friday mornings. During the offseason between October 1 and May 14, no lane shifts or closures will be allowed between 6 and 9 a.m. seven days a week. Signs will be posted on Coastal Highway in Milford and Ocean City, as well as on Route 113, to inform drivers that Route 26 will be under construction. Signs will be posted to let drivers know that businesses in the construction zone will be open, and pedestrian traffic will be maintained.
Residents who spoke with WGMD feel that with the growth in the area and the associated increase in traffic, especially in the summer, a project to widen the road and ease congestion is long overdue. However, business owners are worried about the same problems as their counterparts near Fenwick Island faced during the construction project on Route 54 that was completed a couple years ago. Betsy Fiore of Bethany Beach feels that DelDOT should've widened Route 26 to two lanes in each direction years ago. She calls the continous center left-turn lane a "suicide lane."
In addition to the 12-foot-wide center left-turn lane, DelDOT will be building 11-foot-wide travel lanes and five-foot-wide shoulders that will double as bike lanes. Sidewalks for pedestrians will also be put in.
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