Plans afoot to slow traffic on Dover’s North State Street

DOVER — The city of Dover will be waving the caution flag on North State Street in the near future, imploring drivers to slow down on the stretch of road that runs past the Silver Lake Cemetery.

Currently, the speed limit increases to 35 mph for drivers traveling northbound on North State Street slightly north of Pennsylvania Avenue heading towards the Walker Road intersection.

However, Dover City Council members voted unanimously this summer to construct a “median island chicane” for the section of North State Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and Columbia Avenue and to extend the 25 mph speed limit to the Walker Road intersection.

Greg Layton, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation, acknowledged the changes to North State

NORTH STATE STREET CHICANE Advantages: • Speed reductions. • Accommodates large vehicles and has little effect on emergency response times. • Provides a visual break in the streetscape and reduces the wide open appearance of the street. • Provides landscaping opportunities. Disadvantages: • Loss of on‐street parking. • Bicyclists have less space to occupy the road through the narrowed portions. • Some aggressive/careless drivers may view chicanes as an “obstacle course”, leading to sharp cornering, braking and acceleration to negotiate the islands and curb extensions.

NORTH STATE STREET CHICANE
Advantages:
• Speed reductions.
• Accommodates large vehicles and has little effect on emergency response times.
• Provides a visual break in the streetscape and reduces the wide open appearance of the
street.
• Provides landscaping opportunities.
Disadvantages:
• Loss of on‐street parking.
• Bicyclists have less space to occupy the road through the narrowed portions.
• Some aggressive/careless drivers may view chicanes as an “obstacle course”, leading to
sharp cornering, braking and acceleration to negotiate the islands and curb extensions.

Street are coming, saying the project “is moving forward,” but said there is no set timetable yet for when the changes will take place.

“In cooperation with the city of Dover, and working with Representative [Sean] Lynn and representatives from the community along North State Street, DelDOT looked at various options intended to reduce speeding along North State Street,” Mr. Layton said. “Several options were considered, but impacts to the adjacent properties were significant, thus undesirable.

“Ultimately, the idea of what is called a ‘chicane’ was proposed for the area between Columbia Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. This measure will help to slow traffic as it enters the more densely populated areas of the upper end of North State Street.”

Residents of the impacted area of North State Street welcome the changes, saying it should make the area much safer, especially for children who are playing outside.

Mike Somers, senior transportation planner for DelDOT, said the idea of the median island chicane is a “horizontal measure” to slow traffic as it enters and leaves North State Street.

Mr. Somers said the chicane would contain the driver’s field of vision, causing motorists to naturally slow down.

“The idea is to slow drivers as they enter the corridor,” Mr. Somers said. “The median should slow traffic [in front of the cemetery] but it will not extend all the way down the street. Nothing done in one place will change the nature of all the traffic.”

The chicane could be made out of brick, concrete, a pebble look or other measures.

“It is intended to be a visually appealing measure, and designed to be consistent with existing local architecture,” Mr. Layton said.

Tim Slavin, president of city council, said that he lives in the area of North State Street and is “very aware of the concerns with the traffic.”

“There is a high frequency of vehicles speeding in both directions,” Mr. Slavin said. ‘Part of the issue is because the road becomes wider for cars traveling northbound because no one parks in front of the cemetery.

“The downtown area is choked, causing drivers to slow down, and the sudden crest that leads to the causeway across Silver Lake naturally causes people to accelerate. I believe a median will help slow the traffic.”

Mr. Slavin said the city will be placing a speed alert reader on the northbound side of North State Street on the block north of Hazel Road, in response to one of the measures asked for by the residents.

“I believe that the lowering of the speed limit on North State Street is to be implemented shortly, perhaps in conjunction with the installation of the speed reader,” he said.

John Caldora, the area coordinator for Wesley College’s south campus, said the college supports the speed-control measures for the increased safety of its students.

“One of our freshman students, Brittany Paige, was killed last year at the cross section of Walker Road and North State Street,” Mr. Caldora said. “She was an education and special education major from Maryland and a bright and warm person who is greatly missed.

“I think the [speed-control measures] will encourage motorists to pay attention and to slow down in that area.”

Sara Herbert, who lives on Bradford Street, said that one of the things the old Dover Neighborhood Watch had noted was that there was already a speed monitor at the end of North State Street and they wanted it to be moved up the street and turned so that it would face south.

“That way the speed monitor would help slow traffic heading north on State Street and the median would slow people heading south,” she said.

For Rep. Lynn and DelDOT officials, finding a way to get traffic slowed down on North State Street was a long process that they are glad they have finally agreed on the construction of the chicane.

“We had a difficult time trying to find something the community would accept because many of the measures considered would take away a lot of the parking in the area due to the way State Street is laid out,” Mr. Somers said. “The median island chicane should be effective.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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