Here we go again.
With the Main Street reconstruction project barely in the rear-view mirror, work has already begun on the next major project that will affect traffic in Newark for the next two years – the expansion and reconstruction of Elkton Road.
After more than a year of advance work, such as tree removal and utility line relocation, the project began in earnest last week, when crews shut down the left lane in both directions between Casho Mill Road and the state line.
For the next six weeks, workers will prepare the medians for contraflow operations, including temporary median crossings and temporary signals, according to C.R. McLeod, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation.
In late September or early October, DelDOT will shut down the northbound lanes – the ones used by drivers coming from Maryland – shifting all traffic to the southbound lanes, where there will be one lane in each direction.
That configuration will be in place through June 2021, when work will shift to the southbound lanes, and contraflow traffic will be moved to the northbound lanes until June 2022.
Parts of other roads, such as Otts Chapel Road and Christina Parkway, will be closed for a couple weekends, but the exact schedule has not yet been announced.
The entire $25 million project is expected to be complete by October 2022.
“It will be painful, but you’ll get a good product in the end,” Project Manager Michael Nauman explained in 2016, when the project was first announced. “If you’re local, you’ll drive around it.”
Much like the Main Street project, the Elkton Road work will provide a more permanent solution to the potholes and rough road surface that has plagued the highway for several years.
“This is the longtime fix,” Nauman said. “Everything before was the proverbial Band-Aid.”
The most noticeable change will be the addition of a third northbound travel lane between Otts Chapel Road and Christina Parkway in order to accommodate increased traffic. Initial plans called for an additional southbound lane as well, but that was removed after additional analysis.
At the intersection of McIntire Drive, officials are planning to create a new entrance to the Dunkin Donuts property on the west side of the building. That land, owned by the city, was once used as a yard waste dump but will soon be converted to a park.
Building that entrance will create a traditional four-way intersection and allow drivers coming from McIntire Drive or northbound Elkton Road to enter the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.
Because the current entrance to the doughnut shop doesn’t line up with McIntire Drive, northbound drivers on Elkton Road can’t turn left into the parking lot. However, many people illegally do so anyway, making the turn at McIntire Drive and traveling against traffic in order to sneak into the lot, causing a safety issue.
The city also has an interest in having a signalized intersection for visitors to use to come in and out of the future park. Dunkin’ Donuts will pay to build the new entrance and a small parking lot for the park. In exchange, the business will be able to build a driveway into its parking lot from the new entrance.
For cyclists, DelDOT is planning a 10-foot-wide paved bicycle and pedestrian path that will run parallel to the northbound lanes but be separated by a grassy median.
The path will connect cyclists to Gravenor Lane, from which they can ride through Devon and the Binns to get to the James F. Hall Trail.
The Elkton Road path will also provide a connection to Rittenhouse Trail and the bike path that parallels Christina Parkway. On the southern side, it will extend into Maryland and connect with the Stonegate Apartments. The trail will also have a spur that runs to the entrance to Newark Charter High School.
The project will also includes a second turn lane from Christina Parkway onto northbound Elkton Road, new traffic signals, new pedestrian crossings, upgraded lighting and new sidewalks.
DelDOT will post project updates at elktonroadimprovements.com.