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DelDOT to widen Kennett Pike at Rt. 82 - Community News

By Adam Zewe
Community News
Posted Feb 27, 2009 @ 05:23 PM
Last update Mar 03, 2009 @ 08:31 AM

Greenville, Del. —

The Delaware Department of Transportation recently unveiled a plan to widen Kennett Pike at Rt. 82, adding dedicated left turn lanes, thru lanes and right-turn lanes to the northbound and southbound sides of Kennett Pike.

The plan was developed to improve safety at the intersection, which has been the site of 73 accidents between 2004 and 2008, including two fatalities in an accident last year.

The fatalities, one a relative of a prominent local family, were not the impetus for the improvement plan, said Misty Seemans, a DelDOT public information officer.

“We’ve been monitoring the intersection for several years,” she said.

Fifty-six percent of the accidents at the intersection have been rear-end collisions caused by the shared left-turn/through lane on Kennett Pike, said
Susan Maldonado, DelDOT’s project manager. Motorists also frequently break the law at that intersection by driving around left-turning cars through the right-turn-only lane, she said.

To alleviate those problems, DelDOT created two possible intersection improvement plans. The first widens Kennett Pike by five-to-10 feet to accommodate an extra left-turn-only lane and the second calls for an additional five-to-six feet for a bike lane.

The shoulder of Kennett Pike is used as a bike lane, but after the intersection is widened, the right turn lane would cut into the shoulder, she said, creating a potential safety hazard for cyclists unless a dedicated bike lane is built.

DelDOT is gathering public input to determine which plan to select, she said, and is also seeking comments from residents about the possibility of a light at the intersection. Twenty percent of the accidents occurred at night, she said.

Both Kennett Pike and Rt. 82 are scenic byways and special care will be taken if lights are installed to preserve the landscape, she said. DelDOT will also replace each tree it removes for construction.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2010, but the project’s cost remains unspecified because DelDOT does not yet know how much widening will be necessary, Seemans said.

The project will be funded through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, which will cover 90 percent of the cost, and the remaining 10 percent should come from the state's Capital Transportation Program for the 2011 fiscal year, she said.

At least one more public workshop will be held before construction begins, Seemans said, and DelDOT is seeking public input through a virtual workshop that should be online by March.

Alan Runk, who has lived in Greenville since 1975, said he is in favor of the improvements, but never realized how dangerous that intersection was until he saw the accident reports.

“If it saves lives, it’s worth it to spend the money,” he said.

Faulkland Heights resident Bruce Wilburn also said the work should improve safety at the intersection. An avid cyclist, Wilburn hopes any plan will include bike lanes because it is dangerous to ride without dedicated cyclist lanes.

“Bikes should be treated like a legitimate form of transportation,” he said.
Something needs to be done to prevent more traffic accidents, said Mary Maloneyhuss, who lives near the intersection, but every improvement has pros and cons.

“This could be helpful if it allows the cars to stop backing up, but I worry it will also allow the cars to keep going faster,” she said.

Rt. 52 & Rt. 82 
73 accidents between 2004 & 2008
56 percent were rear-end collisions
36 percent resulted in injuries, (including two deaths)
20 percent occurred at night
Kennett Pike avg. daily traffic:
12,679 cars northbound
(projected: 18,750 by 2030)
18,521 cars southbound
(projected: 25,000 by 2030)

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