Clarksville intersection to close at Route 26

Date Published: 
April 22, 2016

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: A house is demolished on Route 26 on Monday, April 18.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: A house is demolished on Route 26 on Monday, April 18.Road construction will partially close the traffic intersection at Route 26/Omar Road/Powell Farm Road, at St. George’s United Methodist Church in Clarksville, for three weeks, starting on Monday.

As part of the State Route 26 Mainline Improvement Project, a new traffic signal and intersection must be installed there, with a diagonal closure across the intersection during the work. Route 26 itself will be unimpeded from Atlantic Avenue to Vines Creek Road. Similarly, Omar Road and Powell Farm Road will still be connected. But Route 26 traffic cannot access Powell Farm or Omar roads during the closure.

Pending weather, the closure will last from Monday, April 25, until Friday, May 13.

The Department of Transportation (DelDOT) suggests a detour route from Powell Farm Road to Burbage Road to Route 17 and back to Route 26. Signs will be posted.

Rather than meeting Route 26 at a four-way intersection under a traffic signal, Omar and Powell Farm roads will be reconfigured. Route 26 will get the same treatment as it did in Dagsboro about a decade ago. Route 26 will curve at the intersection but only meet Powell Farm Road with a traffic signal. A short distance west of Powell Farm Road, Omar Road will stick off like a spur.

The changes are being made in order to improve the safety of the road system and to reduce the likelihood of future crashes at this intersection, officials noted.

Message boards will be placed in the area to alert motorists of the new traffic pattern.  Flaggers will be on site, too.

Although project officials said Route 26 itself would only close for a few months in 2015, the side roads have also been closed several times in the past few years.

Several back roads were upgraded to alleviate traffic along the 4-mile construction project. Alternate routes include Burbage Road, Windmill Drive, Central Avenue and Beaver Dam Road.

Main roadwork could finish by July

Project contractor George & Lynch hopes to be off the roads by early July, project leaders told the public at the Construction Advisory Group meeting on April 12.

That still means a few months of summer schedule work (including nighttime lane closures from Monday to Thursday, starting May 16).

Turn lanes and new road shapes are visible now, but the entire configuration will be obvious to drivers in May. After that, the roads will just need two final inches of paving.

Residents and business owners are still seeing signs of the unfinished project, including debris, jutting manholes and seemingly abandoned piles of soil.

For instance, a tall manhole is still causing some consternation on Doc’s Place Extension (near the Beebe Walk-In Care).

But builders will eventually install “surface paving to get the dips, the humps, the lumps out of the roadway,” said AECOM resident engineer Ken Cimino.

The kinks are scheduled to be smoothed out by autumn. The project team and DelDOT will schedule several final walk-throughs to ensure the landscape, drainage and roadwork itself are up to snuff. For instance, they’re required to plant a certain quality of grass.

Touchups will continue into autumn. But anyone with concerns is being asked to contact Ken Cimino, whose job includes all public outreach. He’s available at (302) 616-2621, or Kenneth.cimino@aecom.com or at 17 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 2, in Ocean View.

The project website is at www.deldot.gov/information/projects/sr26/index.shtml. People can also sign up for weekly email updates.

“If you see something, yell,” said state Rep. Ron Gray, who complimented DelDOT’s communication plans, which he said are far improved after the catastrophe of Route 54’s frustrating upgrades a few years prior.

Because of frequent communication with the public and businesses, the project team has made adjustments to help things flow better for the public, such as changing lane closure times for the late-night dinner crowd.

Recently, everything has gone pretty smoothly, Cimino said. The biggest surprise was warm weather during the holiday season, which allowed paving into January. Weather can be so variable that it doesn’t present a full picture to simply say the official construction calendar had fallen behind by 75 days, at last count.

Motorists should drive carefully through the construction zones, as flaggers and traffic cones will direct vehicles through the one-lane closures.

Crews will continue grading soil along the roadside from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., preparing for sidewalks between West Avenue and the Assawoman Canal, as well as swale ditches east of Whites Neck Road.

Milling and paving continues near Powell Farm Road from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sussex County is working parallel to the Route 26 project to install sewers in the area of Route 17, but those aren’t operational yet.

Construction Advisory Group meetings are held every other month (next on Tuesday, June 14), at 10 a.m. at Bethany Beach Town Hall.