Detour for US 113 closure causes new rush hour backups

MILLSBORO — The state’s detour and traffic flow plans tied to closure of southbound DuPont Boulevard in Millsboro for major bridge rehabilitation have hit some snags.

That was the report from Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway after substantial backups were the norm during morning rush hour Monday, Nov. 4, the first workday with both southbound lanes of US 113 closed for bridge work spanning Iron Branch.

“Monday morning there was traffic concerns,” Chief Calloway said Monday night in an update at Millsboro’s council meeting. “I have reached out to DelDOT for some solutions. We went from not needing police to now needing more than they thought we would need.”
Following prep work that included some widening of Radish Road that is part of the detour, DelDOT shut down both lanes for southbound traffic Sunday evening.

DelDOT’s designated 1.9-mile detour route for cars and small trucks from southbound US 113 encompasses Radish Road, Hickory Hill Road and Handy Road where traffic funnels onto US 113 southbound.

“The challenge that we have is when you are on Radish Road and you are turning left to Hickory Hill Road, that has to be a constant flow of traffic. That cannot stop,” said Chief Calloway. “We found some solutions there to divert the Delaware Avenue traffic out onto Old Landing Road, so we can keep that intersection flowing.”

On the calendar, DelDOT has blocked off total closure of southbound US 113 for hopefully no more than two weeks – Nov. 3 through Nov. 17 – in the accelerated bridge construction project for rehabilitation of the aging Iron Branch Bridge, portions of which more than 100 years old.
Northbound lanes of DuPont Boulevard are not affected.

For now, Millsboro police will be stationed at the detour during the duration of this project during peak times: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll see if that works out,” Chief Calloway said. “As for the weekend it will be determined by the progress of this project.”
DelDOT is paying for upward of two Millsboro police officers for traffic monitoring during this construction project, DelDOT spokeswoman Louise Holt said.

“The department (DelDOT) is compensating for two officers (one of which was part of the advertised contract, the other was added after the fact to help at the US 113/Radish Road split, as some motorists were confused by the soft detour signage),” said Ms. Holt. “We are also in continuous contact with the police and working through any suggestions or minor adjustments.”

Ms. Holt said Millsboro Police Department does have the authority to perform traffic control at their own discretion as well.
Chief Calloway planned to contact DelDOT with another concern: how detoured traffic re-connects to southbound DuPont Boulevard.

“Where it is dumping out onto the highway, I would have liked to have seen DelDOT really look at where this traffic is going. Because once it blocks up to Handy Road, we’ve got a problem,” said Chief Calloway. “I was hoping they would have a merge lane there out at the light. They do not.”

Mumford & Miller is the contractor for the estimated $1.2 million project.
DelDOT’s intent is for the entire project to be completed and traffic patterns returned to normal well before Thanksgiving.

“The department (DelDOT) did everything we could to ensure it stays two weeks,” said George Pierce, DelDOT Area Manager at a press gathering near the Iron Branch site several weeks prior to the start of project. “We have an incentive/disincentive on this. So, the contractor is actually going to be charged $12,000 a day if they’re late, or they get $12,000-a-day credit if they finish earlier.”

DelDOT’s detour route for large trucks is substantially longer, measuring 11.4 miles: from southbound US 113, to Rt. 24 (Laurel Road), to SR 30 and SR 26 leading back to the US 113 intersection in Dagsboro.

“This short-term detour was agreed upon by both the department (DelDOT) and town to be preferable to an extended project of at least eight months,” said Ms. Holt.

“We ask the public’s cooperation and patience as we move through the detour phase, and generally the first few days are the most confusing to everyone, but as motorists adjust, the detours tend to smooth out as people get used to the change in flow and patterns.”

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