Take a drive down Main Street, and technically speaking, you’re on Delaware Route 273. You’re also on State Business Route 2.
And once you get to the area in front of the Deer Park Tavern, a third route number enters the picture: Route 896.
That repetitive naming, also prevalent in other parts of the city, leads to “sign clutter” and driver confusion, said Mark Luszcz, chief traffic engineer for the Delaware Department of Transportation.
“There’s too many signs in the world,” Luszcz said. “The critical signs get lost in the clutter.”
To help resolve the problem, DelDOT has developed a plan to consolidate and simplify the route designations of state roads in the city. (Click here for a PDF map of the current and proposed route designations.)
The changes should be complete by the end of the summer, Luszcz said.
DelDOT refers to the repetitive names as “braided” roads ¬– roads that are designated as two or three different route numbers.
“As roads were built, they ended up overlapping,” Luszcz said. “I suspect it just built up over time.”
The most significant change is the shortening of Route 2 and the elimination of Business Route 2.
Currently, Route 2 enters the city as Capitol Trail and continues down through the city “braided” with other route numbers, including Route 72 (Library Avenue) and Route 4 (Christina Parkway). Business Route 2 branches off and includes Main Street and Delaware Avenue, which are also designated as Route 273.
To eliminate the repetitiveness, Route 2 will end at the beginning of Main Street, and Business Route 2 will no longer exist.
Luszcz said the changes should not have an effect on motorists other than to reduce the amount of road signs required at intersections.
“Nobody says, ‘My business is on Business Route 2,’” he said. “No, it’s Main Street. Very few people even know these route numbers are in Newark.”
DelDOT is also creating a new route number, 279, which will be used for Elkton Road between Suburban Plaza and the state line. Currently that road is considered a continuation of Route 2.
The 279 designation matches up with what Maryland calls the road once it enters that state.
The renaming is part of an effort DelDOT undertook a few years ago to reduce sign clutter throughout the state, Luszcz said.
The first project was the “unbraiding” of Route 1 and Route 113 from Dover to Milford.
The transportation agency is also looking into changing parts of Route 202 in Wilmington, part of which is braided with Interstate 95 and Route 141.