Intersection in Frankford fatal crash gets serious scrutiny

Frankford Neighborhood Watch members, with guests state Rep. John Adkins and Sen. George H. Bunting, heard from Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) representatives this week concerning their efforts to make sure the stop sign at the intersection at Daisy Street and Route 113, and others like it, are clearly marked.

The intersection was the site of a recent accident that killed three members of a family. A 16-year-old girl was the only survivor in her family’s car.

Natalie Barnhart, chief engineer and director of transportation services for DelDOT, answered the question of why the former stop sign within a concrete island was taken down years ago. She said that a lot of islands that used to be up were in the shoulder of Route 113 and that was a “safety issue in and of itself.” They were subsequently moved during a project about six or seven years ago.

She said the island at Daisy, when pulled back from the road, was smaller than allowable for their regulations, so it was also removed.

Bob Reeder, owner of Delaware Defensive Driving, argued that there is 14 feet of available space now for a stop sign within an island.

“There is absolutely room to have a smaller island, which they claim they can’t do. I disagree,” he said. “They [the town] should make them prove to them they can’t. They are just trying to say it’s not their fault.”

“At this point, we can’t go backward,” said Barnhart. “We can’t undo what’s already happened. Being sensitive to what happened, more things can be done.”

She added, however, that the sign that is present at the location — albeit marked, rather than a freestanding sign on an island — was acceptable according to DelDOT guidelines. She said DelDOT will have people out there to look at the signage and make recommendations. They have, Barnhart said, picked 19 intersections with geometry similar to the Daisy/Route 133 intersection to study, as well. She said they would have recommendations and work orders for signage and striping for some of those intersections as soon as Wednesday of this week.

“They’ll all be in place by the end of October, so in the next two weeks,” said Barnhart, referring to the initial 19 with geometry similar to the Daisy Street intersection. She also said they plan to look all intersections on Route 113 from the Maryland line up to Dover, and from U.S. Route 13 to Dover and State Route 1, and will start implementing needed changes as soon as possible. That study will also look at median crossovers and driveway entrances.

A representative from the Delaware State Police Governor’s Task Force was also present at this week’s Neighborhood Watch meeting to hear concerns about Frankford’s ongoing drug problem.

It was noted that Police Chief William Dudley is the town’s only police officer, and his jurisdiction is limited. For example, there are several areas that would seem to be within town limits that he has no jurisdiction over, and four main streets in town – Delaware Avenue, Frankford Avenue, Daisy and Hickory – lead out to the dual highway, which he also does not have jurisdiction over. Bunting agreed it is an issue for the town.

“I can’t believe we weren’t able to get another police officer,” he said. “I have communities where very little crime takes place, and yet we are here begging.”

The Neighborhood Watch members also spoke about several annexation possibilities, which they said would make both speed and drug enforcement easier on the town.

In other Frankford news, the Frankford Fall Festival will be held at the town park from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31, with trick-or-treating to follow, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The next Neighborhood Watch meeting will be Monday, Dec. 14.