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3/28/2013
Speed on Kennett Pike big concern for residents/ Weiner: DelDOT policy is flawed

Vincent said DelDOT affirmed the 50 mph limit with an analysis that found 85 percent of free flowing traffic moving at roughly 50 mph or slower.

The 85th-percentile standard for setting a posted speed limit is a national one; however, New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner notes the standard is advisory – not binding. He believes DelDOT applies its 85th-percentile policy too stringently.
 
 
DEL. 82 INTERSECTION UPGRADES: Speed on Kennett Pike big concern for residents
 
News Journal 3/28/13

GREENVILLE — Residents along Del. 52/Kennett Pike struggle to safely turn into driveways between speeding cars, especially during rush hours, they say.

“I’m scared I’m going to be tail-ended,” said Patty Hobbs, who lives just south of the intersection with Del. 82 (Campbell and Kirk roads). “I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll lower the speed limit.”

A contractor began work this month on a $1.5 million project to rebuild the intersection, but transportation officials are sticking with the posted 50 mph limit, which reflects the prevailing speed on the scenic byway between Centreville and Greenville.

Artificially lowering the limit can result in dangerous speed differences among vehicles and reduce highway safety, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“After construction, we’ll study the area again. If speeds happen to be lower, then we can look at lowering that limit either to 35 or something between 35 and 50,” said Matthew Vincent, project manager for DelDOT.

For years, an area civic group has sought to expand Greenville’s 35 mph zone to include the Del. 52/ 82 intersection.

“We’re talking about a few hundred yards, which we think would greatly improve safety,” said John Danzeisen, head of the Kennett Pike Association.

“Right now, as you’re coming north, it’s 35 mph where the Greenville shops are, then a stretch of 50 [mph] that encourages people to speed up just as they’re entering the intersection.” DelDOT targeted the intersection, in part, because of its high rate of crashes compared to others statewide. Police reported 96 crashes – with two fatalities – on Kennett Pike near the intersection from 2004-10, according to state records. In coming months, crews will reconfigure the intersection approaches to provide a separate left-turn lane and a shared through/rightturn lane. Officials hope this will reduce the crashes caused by motorists who drive around a leftturning vehicle only to pull into the blind spot of oncoming turning traffic.

The state is also incorporating facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists to cue motorists to keep speeds down, Vincent said. 

The agency scaled back 2010 designs to widen the intersection and install lighting.

Jeff Greene, a transportation planner with the nonprofit Delaware Greenways, liked those changes but is not optimistic that DelDOT’s speed study will capture slower speeds come fall. That’s because DelDOT designed the new intersection anticipating a 50 mph operating speed. “If you design a road for 50 miles per hour and do a good job of it, people are going to drive 50 miles per hour or faster because that’s what they feel com-fortable doing,” Greene said. Vincent said DelDOT affirmed the 50 mph limit with an analysis that found 85 percent of freeflowing traffic moving at roughly 50 mph or slower.

The 85th-percentile standard for setting a posted speed limit is a national one; however, New Castle County Councilman Bob Weiner notes the standard is advisory – not binding. He believes DelDOT applies its 85th-percentile policy too stringently.

“This is all about allowing Pennsylvania drivers to barrel through here to get to the tax-free shopping,” said Weiner, whose district includes Greenville. “There has been an increase in traffic, and a lot of it has to do with the road being faster, so it becomes a viable bypass to Concord Pike [U.S. 202].” Speeding is also a concern nearby on the more rural Old Kennett Road in Centreville, where county police are regularly targeting motorists between Snuff Mill and Ashland Clinton School roads. One morning speed trap last week netted 15 citations during a three-hour period, according to police. The high speed was 57 mph, where the limit is 35.

“It’s very difficult to pull out onto Old Kennett from our driveway,” said Eric Monzo, who lives at the corner of Snuff Mill Road. “We’re right against the road, and there’s just no escaping it.” 

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