Wyoming Avenue stop signs are stopped, for now

DOVER — Tony DePrima and several of his neighbors don’t see the need for the four-way stop signs at the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Westview Terrace that the city of Dover was proposing.

Mr. DePrima and those against the installation of the stop signs had the first step of their wish granted when the city council called off a vote on installing the signs Monday night.

The intersection is currently only a two-way stop as traffic flows freely through it along Wyoming Avenue, a road that stretches from South Governors Avenue to New Burton Road.

Mr. DePrima, former Dover City manager, states that the proposed additional stop signs are in violation of the Delaware Manual on Uniform Traffic-Control Devices for Streets and Highways. He does not believe stop signs should be used for speed-control measures.

“There is a reason why stop signs should not be used for speed control,” Mr. DePrima explained. “It is because signs in the wrong place are unsafe; they cause accidents. City council will be layering a safety problem on top of a safety problem.

Dover City Council tabled a measure that would have led to the installation additional stop signs at the intersection of Wyoming Avenue and Westview Terrace. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

“City council expects the 3,000 people who travel on Wyoming Avenue (each day) to obey the law. Well, we expect city council to obey the law; we expect city council to protect our safety by abiding by the most important traffic safety law on the books.”

He added, “We expect city council to not take actions that put the city legally and financially at risk by erecting a stop sign that is ‘unofficial, unauthorized and unenforceable.’”

Councilman James E. Hosfelt Jr., who chairs the Safety Advisory and Transportation Committee, made a proposal to take the stop signs off city council’s agenda on Monday night, instead saying council needed to take a step back and look further into the issue.

“In the spring of 2017 the roadway is scheduled for repaving,” Councilman Hosfelt said. “Once this is done we will stripe the roadway with center lines and also include striping to indicate shoulders on either side of the roadway.  This alone will help to reduce vehicle speeds. Other traffic calming measures will also be considered for this roadway and obviously we will want to have some input from city residents.

“I am not sure when the roadway was last repaved and why it wasn’t properly striped but we need to correct the issue going forward.”

Not everyone that lives in the neighborhood is against the stop signs.

Debbie Grinstead, who lives at 320 Wyoming Avenue, spoke at the Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 28 and said she supports the installation of the signs.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that everyone was here again discussing a stop sign on a street that obviously needs it, where over 3,000 cars a day are going down it,” she said. “I’ve heard people say that if those living on Wyoming Avenue do not like it, they should not be living on Wyoming Avenue.”

To Mrs. Grinstead, it’s a simple safety issue – especially considering that eight schoolchildren under the age of 11 live in the first seven houses going down the street from Governors Avenue toward New Burton Road on the left side.

“If stop signs were put up, it would not be so convenient to go down Wyoming Avenue, and maybe some traffic would be diverted other ways, which in turn would lower some of the speeds, and there would be other natural occurrences because there is a stop sign on the road,” she said.

Ironically, Mr. DePrima said that when he served as city manager, he had requested stop signs be approved by council in similar situations.
However, he said he has since realized he made the wrong decision in many of those cases.

The city of Dover’s Department of Public Works had recommended the four-way intersection at Westview Terrace and Wyoming Avenue, noting that it bisects two residential neighborhoods and would improve safety since both developments have a large population of children.

A memorandum by the Department of Public Works also noted, “Additionally, the stretch of road on Wyoming Avenue from New Burton Road to S. Governors Avenue is approximately 0.5 miles in length without a current stop condition.

“This enables vehicles to speed through this area; with that in mind, staff would recommend a speed study conducted by the Police Department.”

And, according to Mr. DePrima, therein lies the problem with the proposed four-way stop sign installation.

“What the City Manager had was a misguided field report,” said Mr. DePrima to city council members. “Under the manual, city council is to have an engineering study that supports the erection of a four-way stop controlled intersection.

“Without an engineering study you are in violation of the manual and the stop sign will be ‘unofficial, unauthorized and unforceable.’”

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