Roadwork speeds up as traffic slows

Del. 1 in Milford has a minimal amount of traffic on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Drivers are heeding state travel restrictions as the pandemic continues for a third month, according to recent traffic counts.

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped Delaware’s road projects, however, and there’s actually more available time to work on them now.

“The reduction in traffic volumes across the state over the past six weeks has provided opportunities to do work during weekdays that might otherwise be limited to nights and/or weekends, allowing our employees and contractors to work more aggressively on our projects, and construction has continued uninterrupted on our projects across the state,” Department of Transportation spokesman C.R. McLeod said.

DelDOT said projects in Kent County as of Thursday included:

• Del. 8 near Del. 44, with construction planned until 3 p.m.

• Del. 1 northbound between Leipsic River Bridge and Big Oak Road, left lane closure for ongoing median barrier work

• Thompsonville Road between Log Cabin Road and Milford Neck Road, intermittent lane closures scheduled until 5 p.m.

• Fence Post Road at Turkey Point Road, closed for construction until today.

“While a large portion of the department is telecommuting, we have hundreds still working on job sites and in our facilities,” Mr. McLeod said. “DelDOT is requiring that all the employees and contractors follow the protective rules the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Delaware Division of Public Health has mandated to slow the spread of the virus.”

Roadwork at Fence Post and Turkey Point roads near Viola on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Statewide weekday traffic volumes have declined around 40-50% in the past six weeks, and have dropped about 70% on weekends, DelDOT said. Mr. McLeod said traffic has recently increased slightly.

The most recent toll collection data isn’t currently available as non-EZPass bills are now being issued. A significant revenue decline seems inevitable and the money will be deeply missed in Delaware’s coffers — the state collected $15,742,534 in tolls in April 2019, followed by $16,480,044 last May.

According to DelDOT:

• On Del. 1 south of the Dover toll plaza, the average daily traffic for both directions for April 26 to May 1 this year was 19,539 vehicles. That was a 50% reduction from the same time period in 2019.

• On Del. 8 at Saulsbury Road during the same time the average daily traffic for both directions was 11,670 vehicles. It was a 38% reduction from the same time last year.

AAA-Mid Atlantic service calls have dropped accordingly in Delaware. While battery assistance requests increased 17% in April, there were about 44% fewer calls otherwise. Fuel and tire issues were down 72% and 48%, respectively.

AAA spokesman Ken Grant speculated that rising battery calls could be caused by “vehicles remaining idle for days or weeks between March and April.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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