LETTER TO THE EDITOR: DelDOT construction delays add to frustration

Delaware is the First State, but among states, first in very little. What are we measuring to determine how well we do things? “What gets measured gets improved” is an old saying in management disciplines.

We are always proud of our history, but where else do we provide leadership across the country. How about our roads and highways? My focus for the last several years has been to try and get safe passage for people up down and across Route 1.

The governor recently visited the site of the sports complex in his tour of newly planned projects to make highways to the beach safer. I have tried to get DelDOT to look at their own crash statistics.

For example, more crashes and injuries would have been averted by an overpass on Route 1 in Milford, than at either Bowers Beach or Thompsonville. The sports complex overpass was not even on the top of the priority list in terms of need. But now those projects are either underway or completed. Now how long are they going to take to complete.

Gov. Carney (on his recent tour of road projects) didn’t have to visit the Route 113 railroad crossing in Milford, because that project is complete and done in record time. The project was so well done by George and Lynch, that they have several other requests for that type of project.

Now let’s turn to Bowers Beach work and the sports complex, both projects awarded to Adel Construction. Both projects are dragging on painfully. Accidents are occurring due to the lack of smooth flowing traffic trying to navigate the temporary lane changes.

It’s pretty obvious that the contract constraints between what George and Lynch did in record time, and what Adel is doing, are vastly different. George and Lynch assembled the subcontractors and materials needed well ahead of time. Replacement of the rail crossing and the disruption was minimal.

Adel sites at times have looked like a movie set — frozen between scenes — equipment not moving for days and a 15-person workforce between the two projects focusing on one job at a time. What’s going on?

Maybe the governor ought to look at the contracting side of DelDOT and see if timely completion is measured or incentivized. Saving money by hiring less people is seemingly in the public interest — but lives are being jeopardized as thousands of people use this unsafe highway.

Emmett Venett Jr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: DelDOT Community Relations Director Charles “C.R.” McLeod responds:

“While the Route 113 Milford railroad project Mr. Venett references was a relatively small and several-week project to replace an aging railroad crossing, grade separated interchanges require years of study and planning, right-of-way property acquisitions, environmental review and permitting, and cost in the tens of millions of dollars each to construct the finished product depending upon the scope of each project.

“The work that has been underway on Route 1 is part of DelDOT’s Corridor Capacity Preservation Program. As part of this program, DelDOT has constructed grade separated interchanges at SR 1 and SR 9 south of the Dover Air Force Base, SR 1 and Thompsonville Road, and will complete the South Frederica grade separated interchange in summer 2018 and the Little Heaven grade separated interchange in fall 2018. DelDOT will also break ground on the SR 1 and NE 10th Street grade separated interchange in spring 2018.

“These projects amount to more than $100 million in infrastructure improvements along Route 1 in Kent County. All of these projects are intended to improve safety, eliminate bottlenecks, and support economic development. Claims that projects are behind schedule are incorrect, as both the Little Heaven and S. Frederica projects are on schedule for completion in 2018 and there has been no extension in project contract time for either project.

“The contractor is also subject to penalties of more than $8,000 per day for not completing these projects on time.

“DelDOT shares Mr. Venett’s eagerness to see all of these projects completed to improve safety and traffic flow for all of our motorists, and we will make great strides toward doing just that in 2018.”

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