Work begins on ‘bad turn’ of Hazletteville Road


Removing utility poles and burying power lines will improve safety on a dangerous stretch of Hazlettville Road west of Dover, officials said. (DelDOT photo)

DOVER — The latest deadly crash on a sharp curve just west of Dover prompted a multi-pronged approach to avoiding the next one.

While the best remedy for navigating the stretch of Hazletteville Road is remaining within the 35 mph speed zone, the reality of driver behavior required more.

Work began May 31, with the burial of utility cables and removal of two poles scheduled first.

On Feb. 26, a vehicle occupied by two off-duty Dover Police officers swerved off the roadway on the curve, traveled down an embankment and struck a utility pole with the driver’s side door. The 2016 Jeep Wrangler overturned, ejecting the passenger and rolling onto the passenger side before stopping.

The incident at approximately 4:05 a.m. left driver Robert E. DaFonte, 23, of Hartly, and passenger James D. Watts, 22, of Camden-Wyoming dead at the scene. Investigating Delaware State Police determined that Mr. Watts was not wearing a seat belt.

The Delaware Department of Transportation will complete the project by regrading the roadside swale area to lessen the possibility of a vehicle rollover.

According to DelDOT in a news release, state Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Hartly, spurred the project that also included the Delaware Electric Cooperative, Verizon and other utilities.

A plaque and flowers pay tribute to two Dover Police Department officers who died in a single-vehicle crash on Hazlettville Road west of Dover while off duty on Feb. 26. (Submitted photos/DelDOT)

“It’s a bad turn,” Sen. Lawson said. “There’ve been a number of accidents there.

“Removal of the poles will help prevent strikes when people run off the road.”

DEC expected its work to be completed within two weeks, the other utilities within a month.

“I asked to get this project finished before the end of the year, this is very good news,” said Sen. Lawson.

According to DelDOT Transportation Safety spokesman Adam Weiser, “The goal is to provide increased recoverable area so that errant vehicles can regain the roadway without striking fixed objects or overturning.”

Funding for the improvements comes from DelDOT’s operating budget, a spokesman said.

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