DelDOT officials have laid out a tentative proposal to create a traffic roundabout at the junction of Little Baltimore and Valley roads to help alleviate traffic problems and drainage issues associated with that intersection.
Delaware Department of Transportation engineers made the proposal at the request of State Rep. Joe Miro (R-Foxfire) at the monthly meeting held by the Greater Hockessin Area Development Association Monday night at Hockessin Fire Co. Memorial Hall. But, Miro stressed that no funding had yet been allocated for any improvements at the intersection and that Monday's presentation was simply a proposal to further discussions about what, if any, improvements could be made to enhance the four-way stop sign currently at Little Baltimore and Valley roads.
Miro said he would work with State Rep. Greg Lavelle (R-Sharpley) and State Sen. David Sokoka (D-Beech Hill), who share Hockessin, to help DelDOT come to a permanent solution.
"Together, we will be looking to see what the focus group that's going to be created here will recommend as to how to improve this area," Miro said. "But this is nothing that will happen next year."
DelDOT project manager Jerry Lovell already knew the audience assembled before him at GHADA would react to the idea of a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Little Baltimore and Valley roads with skepticism based on comments he had heard prior to the 7 p.m. start of GHADA's meeting. But Lovell, a New Jersey native, stressed that the smaller roundabout was much different from the infamous traffic circles people had encountered in the Garden State.
"In a traffic circle, the rules are that the owner of the bigger car has the right of way," he said. "With roundabouts, things are controlled. What roundabouts do is allow traffic to go through at all different times. You don't have to wait two or three minutes like you do at a traffic light.
"In the last few years we've built a half dozen of them, and they really do seem to work well once they're in," he said.
Roundabouts can also be more aesthetically pleasing than a regular traffic signal, with landscaping placed in the middle, Lovell said.
But, at this point, the design was "crayon to paper" and nothing too detailed, Lovell said. And if the community did not want this project, money would not be allocated to this intersection, he added.
Page 2 of 2 - DelDOT also considered a traffic light with 5-foot shoulders to alleviate poor visibility for drivers approaching from both Little Baltimore and Valley roads, Lovell said. It would also be pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
Beginning a year ago, DelDOT studied the intersection to see if a traffic light was warranted and the junction did qualify for a traffic light, Lovell said. But agency officials, taking opposition from the community into account, determined that was not the solution.
GHADA President Fran Swift asked why anything had to be done at the intersection. Miro replied that he had personally observed several fender benders at the intersection in which several people pulled over and exchanged insurance information. Therefore, he concluded that the accident numbers could be even worse that had been reported.
In the last three years, there have been 10 accidents at this intersection because of cars not stopping at the intersection or rear end collisions, Lovell said.
GHADA Land Use Chairman Mark Blake said he worried about any changes to the intersection's effect on the Mitchell family, which owns Woodside Creamery. In addition, any changes to the intersection would be an all or nothing proposition, namely improving it extensively enough so that people could walk from that intersection to Woodside Creamery and Lantana Square.
"If you're going to fix it, don't put a Band-Aid on a bleeder," Blake said. "Fix it and put in sidewalks."
Lovell said DelDOT was trying to figure out how much it needed to do at this intersection.
"Anything that we do takes land," Lovell said. "If you put sidewalks on one side, that takes land. If you put them on both sides, it takes even more land."
Lovell took several comments and questions from GHADA members regarding concerns with the traffic light or roundabout.
GHADA member Nathaniel Schwartz, vice president of the Bridleshire Farms Maintenance Corp., said the focus group was the key to figuring out what to do. He was among those who signed up for the focus group after the meeting.