A $25 million road reconstruction project slated to begin in spring 2019 will bring major changes to Elkton Road, including a third lane, a separated bike path and intersection improvements.
The project will provide a more permanent solution to the potholes and rough road surface that plagued the highway for two years, according to Delaware Department of Transportation officials, who unveiled the plans Monday night.
“This is the longtime fix,” Project Manager Michael Nauman said. “Everything before was the proverbial Band-Aid.”
The roads took a beating during the snowy winter of 2013-14, with many deep potholes opening up. Though they were patched that spring and summer, similar damage happened again the following winter. The reconstruction project was already on the horizon, but the damage was so bad, DelDOT spent $2.5 million repaving the road starting last fall.
The new project, which is expected to be completed by spring 2021, will replace the asphalt with concrete, which Nauman said will last longer and hold up better under pressure from heavy truck traffic.
The work will be focused on the portion of Elkton Road from the state line to Casho Mill Road. The portion heading into downtown Newark was redone during a years-long construction project that concluded in 2012.
The most noticeable change will be the addition of a third travel lane in each direction between Otts Chapel Road and Christina Parkway. Nauman said the additional lanes will accommodate increased traffic on that segment of the road.
The project will also add a second right turn lane from Christina Parkway onto Elkton Road. The turn will be controlled by a traffic light rather than the current yield sign.
However, Nauman warned, the two years of construction will be difficult for motorists, who will face lane closures and delays. The northbound lanes – the ones used by cars coming from Maryland – will be reconstructed first, and all traffic will be shifted to the southbound side, with one lane in each direction. Once that is complete, the southbound lanes will be reconstructed.
“It will be painful, but you’ll get a good product in the end,” he said, adding, “If you’re local, you’ll drive around it.”
Bike path to connect Maryland with the Hall Trail
Cyclists, too, will benefit from the project.
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.
“There’s a huge demand for it,” Nauman said, noting that many residents and University of Delaware students use bikes to travel Elkton Road. “It will add connectivity from Maryland all the way through Newark.”
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 trail takes cyclists along the Amtrak line all the way to the Delaware Technology Park on Wyoming Road, or they can branch off onto the Pomeroy Trail to head north to Main Street or into White Clay Creek State Park.
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.
DelDOT will be responsible for maintenance of the path, including snow removal.
Crews will also build a sidewalk along the southbound lanes.
Upgrades planned for Dunkin’ Donuts intersection
Upgrades planned for the intersection of Elkton Road and McIntire Drive are sure to please coffee lovers.
DelDOT has been working on the improvements with the city of Newark and the owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts located at the intersection.
Officials are planning to create a new entrance to the Dunkin Donuts property – which also includes a former tobacco shop soon to be occupied by a liquor store – on the south side of the building. That land, owned by the city, is used as a yard waste dump but will soon be converted to a park.
Building that entrance would 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.
“It’s a pretty big safety issue,” said Tom Coleman, Newark’s public works director.
The city also has an interest in having a signalized intersection for visitors to use to come in and out of the future park.
Coleman said Dunkin’ Donuts will pay to build the new entrance and a small parking lot for the park. In exchange, the business will be able build a driveway into its parking lot from the new entrance.
“It worked out as a win-win for us and Dunkin’ Donuts,” Coleman said.