WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

DelDOT's Love Affair with Jersey Barriers

I may very well post today on some national/international story or issue, but let me begin first with a Delaware angle, and some of my pet peeves regarding DelDOT.

I've heard a lot of folks complain about the number of potholes which have emerged this winter. Indeed, extraordinary temperature swings - from deep freeze to thaws, and recurring snowfall - have created substantial numbers of pockmarks on road surfaces.

DelDOT is getting heat for not filling up the holes quickly enough, but there, I'm prepared to give the transportation agency some slack. It's been an extraordinary winter, and it's tough to address the pothole problem when you have to treat the roads for snow or ice almost every other day.

But alas, DelDOT has a dry period this week until at least Friday.

No, my gripes with DelDOT come from two other issues: DelDOT's seeming love affair with Jersey Barriers, and the frequent failure to provide a tapered, gradual pavement transition from a newly renovated road surface to the roads which intersect with it.

Jersey Barriers: When DelDOT first designed and built the ramp from southbound (at that stretch, westbound) I-95 to (then) newly-constructed Route One, after coming off the ramp, you encountered Jersey Barriers on your left, separating southbound traffic coming off 95 with southbound traffic from Route 7 transitioning into Route One. Exhibit A of poor design: The lanes were much too narrow, invariably clogged up even during non-rush-hour periods (not to mention the nightmarish gridlock from any accident along that stretch!), and the Jersey Barriers - which one thought to be only temporary - became permanent (and ugly).

Then came the highway upgrade along that stretch - the new flyover ramp intended to relieve northbound congestion from Route 1 to I-95 near Christiana Mall. Finally, I thought, we're going to get a top-notch road design and no ugly Jersey Barriers. I was wrong about the latter.

I don't have a problem with the divider at the entry point to that ramp -- the road surface is wide -- but coming off that ramp to northbound I-95, the pavement suddenly narrows, with Jersey Barriers standing along the driver's left. (And until just recently, some material was protruding from the right-side barrier wall as well!)

Is this going to be another "permanent", non-permanent Jersey Barrier? (Stones and debris appear on the other side of that barrier, but one assumes DelDOT could WIDEN that ramp if it wanted to.)

Is this DelDOT's way of SLOWING traffic emptying on northbound I-95? (The southbound lanes also produce some issues, but not nearly as dramatic as that northbound chokepoint, IMHO.)

More likely, that chokepoint will produce some horrific accidents, and it'll be northbound gridlock all over again on some beach weekend. (I'm surprised there haven't been more accidents since the opening of the flyover ramp, especially this winter.)

Is this a Delaware idiosyncrasy (just like Jersey has its blasted traffic circles), or do I exaggerate my argument?

Finally, why can't DelDOT give us seamless pavement transitions from newly-constructed road surfaces to adjoining streets? Examples abound. Off newly-paved Route 202 in Talleyville/Brandywine Hundred, for example. Newly widened Bear-Christiana Road (Route 7) onto School Bell Road -- literally within eyesight of DelDOT's headquarters. A hodge-podge of pavement transitions. Bump, bump. Come on guys!

Posted at 7:22am on January 28, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Tue, Jan 28, 2014 8:46am
Yes, they are replacing Delaware's State Flower, the Orange Cone.

Tue, Jan 28, 2014 8:43pm
Sorry Allan, but I thought the only barrier to Jersey was the Delaware Memorial Bridge when it's shut down due to an accident.

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