A speed limit increase was instituted on two corridors in the south Dover area during the week of January 9, 2017.
The changes---implemented following careful study and consideration by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT)---occurred along the freeway portion of State Route 1 (SR-1), near the Dover Air Force Base (DAFB), as well as the nearly 2.5 mile length of the Puncheon Run Connector, located between SR-1 and US-13.
The adjustments---which raised the speed limits to 60 m.p.h. on both highways---were justified by another increase further upstate, and prompted by the tendencies of both local commuters and passers-through.
"About a year and a half ago, we did a similar speed limit change (to 65 m.p.h) on I-95," reminded Mark Luszcz, Chief Traffic Engineer with DelDOT. "One of the prime things we look at (is), what speeds are drivers driving the road today? All the national studies generally show that drivers drive at a speed that they feel is safe for the roadway, given the geometry of the road, the roadside environment, and things like that."
Citing that vehicles on the impacted highways have consistently and uniformly traveled faster than the existing speed limits previously posted there, the proposed speed limits were considered reasonable and safe, based on DelDOT's engineering review.
Asked about the possibility that the increase would promote even faster speed variances for traffic, Luszcz downplayed the notion.
"We don't expect a large increase in actual speeds after we make the change," he offered. "We're finishing up studies of what the speeds are, and were, on I-95 before and after we made that speed limit change. It looks like (the current speeds are) only maybe a mile an hour greater, compared to what they were before back when we had the 55 mile an hour speed limit along the bulk of I-95 in Delaware. So we would expect a similarly small change in actual speeds here on the Dover freeways."
Specifically, the SR-1 segment located between Exit 97 and Trap Shooters Road would incorporate the 60 m.p.h. transitional speed in both directions, in order to moderate the change from 65 m.p.h. north of Puncheon Run to 55 m.p.h. below the Barkers Landing Bridge.
"That's the area where the freeway is transitioning (back) to an arterial," Luszcz explained, despite the corridor's opposite evolution.
"As we build more and more of these grade separated intersections," Luszcz explained, "the road is transitioning from an arterial into more of a freeway. Route 9, if you remember, used to be just an at-grade intersection and, several years ago, we put (in) the grade separation."
Would this mean that additional speed increases for SR-1 might be considered?
"For now, we feel a good spot to change from the 60 to the 55 is at Trap Shooters. After the Little Heaven grade separation is complete---and some of the other grade separations are completed---we could conceivably go back and re-evaluate the speed limits and see if they can be increased even father south."