With the Main Street reconstruction project still in full swing, another major road project is on the horizon.
A two-year project to reconstruct and widen Elkton Road is currently out to bid, with work expected to begin in the spring, according to C.R. McLeod, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Many motorists have likely noticed the first signs of the project in the past few weeks, as crews cut down a number of trees along the expanded right-of-way. There were also lane closures in August as workers completed utility relocation work.
The $25 million road reconstruction project will bring major changes to Elkton Road between Casho Mill Road and the state line, including a third lane, a separated bike path and intersection improvements.
Much like the current 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,” Project Manager Michael Nauman explained in 2016, when the project was first announced. “Everything before was the proverbial Band-Aid.”
This spring, the eastbound lanes – the ones used by cars coming from Maryland – will be reconstructed first, and all traffic will be shifted to the westbound side, with one lane in each direction. Once that is complete, the westbound lanes will be reconstructed.
“It will be painful, but you’ll get a good product in the end,” Nauman said, adding, “If you’re local, you’ll drive around it.”
The most noticeable change will be the addition of a third eastbound travel lane between Otts Chapel Road and Christina Parkway in order to accommodate increased traffic. Initial plans called for an additional westbound 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 would create a traditional four-way intersection and allow drivers coming from McIntire Drive or eastbound Elkton Road to enter the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.
Because the current entrance to the doughnut shop doesn’t line up with McIntire Drive, eastbound 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 eastbound 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 western side, it will extend into Maryland and connect with the Stonegate Apartments.