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Last summer, construction began on Delaware’s Route 1, with an expected finish date of sometime at the end of 2025.. While many people have hopes that this project may make a difference when it comes to traffic congestion, motor vehicle accidents, and overall safety, this is a very costly construction project, and some folks have raised questions about its efficacy.
Delaware is spending over $40 million on the grade-separated intersection on Route 1, which is a big deal. Governor Carney was part of the celebration last June, in which the construction crews broke ground and started the project. The Governor and other government officials believe that Delaware needs a grade-separated intersection to “improve safety and reduce congestion” on Route 1, which has been a growing problem for years. When the project is done, it will consist of bridges and entrance and exit ramps instead of an intersection. SR 1 will become elevated over SR 16, and bridges will be added to allow traffic to move more easily. In addition, there will be added lighting, intersection realignment, and the development of a stormwater facility.
Governor Carney stated that “these projects not only improve our transportation infrastructure, but they also provide hundreds of jobs for our construction industry.” Therefore, he is investing over $1 billion of work in the area within the next few years in hopes of providing more jobs and making the roads across Delaware much safer.
What exactly is a grade-separated intersection?
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute defines a grade-separated intersection as a way to separate “conflict points using overpasses and underpasses,” which allows traffic to get through and flow more easily. As a result, automobile drivers, pedestrians, and any other types of drivers and passengers are safer and less at risk for severe accidents and injuries. Here are three of the goals used in grade-separated intersections:
- There will be an increase in traffic capacity and an easier flow of traffic.
- There will be less delays and conflicts due to traffic, other vehicles, or pedestrians.
- Individuals’ safety and wellbeing is made a priority.
Simply put, grade-separated intersections get rid of the congested crossing traffic, which reduces the likelihood of motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents. Drivers in vehicles are more protected from crashing into one another, and pedestrians are more protected from motor vehicles since they do not have to cross over multiple sets of traffic.
Are intersections really that dangerous?
Even though some drivers see intersections as a normal part of their daily commute, they are actually one of the most dangerous infrastructures to exist. As a matter of fact, the United States Department of Transportation mentioned that “roughly one-quarter of traffic fatalities and about one-half of all traffic injuries in the United States are attributed to intersections.” In 2020 alone, there were almost 11,000 intersection fatalities in America. Intersections are at the top of the list of priorities when it comes to making them safer for motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians.
Route 1 in Delaware is a dangerous road, and the construction work may make it more so
In 2019, Route 1 ranked first on a list of most dangerous highways in Delaware during the summer months. One of the main reasons for this is due to the growth that Sussex County has experienced over the years. Route 1 has become more congested and dangerous not only throughout the summer months but during the entire year. If you look at Delaware’s crash portal, you can see just how many accidents happen along the Coastal Highway every year. And according to the Delaware State Police’s 2022 Annual Report, “Of the 2,442 traffic collisions investigated in 2022, approximately 25% occurred in the overburdened stretch of Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.” That means just a portion of Route 1 was responsible for more than 500 accidents last year.
In April 2023, government officials traveled to the new grade-separated intersection site on Route 1 to advocate for the safety of workers who are working in the construction work zone. This was the start of a campaign to inform vehicle drivers to be aware of construction workers who are working on the roads. The reason behind this campaign is due to the fact that construction workers are prone to being struck by vehicles, especially when drivers are speeding and not paying attention to their surroundings.
Additionally, construction zones can pose extra risks for drivers as well. Some of the reasons for these risks are poorly-marked or missing lanes, merging issues, uneven road surfaces, unexpected road closures, and work vehicles and debris on the roads. When any of these problems arise and drivers are not made aware with warning signs, severe and deadly injuries are likely.
Tips for driving safely in a work zone in Delaware
In the end, Route 1 may be more dangerous for a time, but the new design is supposed to reduce those risks overall. We urge you to drive carefully anywhere you are, but especially while construction is ongoing. Here are five tips that you can remember to help you safely get through the work zones without injuring yourself or others:
- Make sure you do not go over the posted speed limit. Work zones typically have their own speed limits, which you should respect and obey to avoid an accident.
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the roads while driving through the work zone. You should also be aware of your surroundings and watch out for signs or workers.
- Give the vehicle in front of you more than enough space. The last thing you want to do is rear-end them if they slam on brakes.
- If you are in a hurry, leave ahead of time to ensure that you have enough time to get through the work zones at a safe speed. Risking your or someone else’s life is not worth making it on time.
- Be prepared for unexpected stops, slow speeds, and braking during a construction work zone.
If you suffer injuries from a car accident and need immediate legal assistance, consider hiring a Delaware car accident lawyer from Silverman, McDonald & Friedman right away. Our attorneys know and understand the laws surrounding various types of auto accidents, such as interstate accidents, highway accidents, and work zone accidents. You can lean on us when times get tough, and we will be here to lend you a helping hand throughout the entire legal process. All you have to do is call our office or complete our contact form, and we will schedule your free consultation at one of our offices in Wilmington Newark, or Seaford today.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.