Long-awaited Middletown road improvements underway
MIDDLETOWN — As Middletown’s population continues to grow, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) will invest $18.4 million to widen one of the most-well-traveled roads in the boom town: Route 299, also known as East Main Street.
Starting last summer, contractors have been working to relocate utilities and install stormwater management to lay the groundwork to add two more lanes on the road that stretches from Catherine Street to Delaware Route 1 exit. The entire project, managed by A-Del Construction Co., will last until fall of 2023.
“This has been a project for a long time coming, and we’re happy it’s finally here,” DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski told Middletown business leaders. The Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce invited Majeski to brief members during a luncheon earlier this week.
In fact, the DelDOT secretary will personally watch the progress of the project that spans two miles over the next couple of years, in a sense.
“I actually live on the other side of [Route 299], so I will travel the work site twice a day each day. It’s a fun fact for the construction team, because I will ping them with questions,” Majeski joked.
The entire project spans from the Catherine Street intersection to the South Route 1 ramp, an area that has become congested over the last couple of years. Along the 2 miles, a new ChristianaCare office, four shopping centers, two schools, the post office and a Wawa have opened.
Even on busy summer nights, commuters can find themselves sitting in traffic and waiting for a car to make a left turn on Catherine Street. During high commuter times or when crashes on Route 1 force drivers to find alternate routes, traffic exiting the highway can back up on the ramp and block lanes.
The Route 1 exit to East Main Street will feature a new lane to handle potential back-up from the highway. New lanes, one in each direction, will be added on the road that spans from the exit ramp to Cleaver Farm Road near Ashley Plaza
Further west, Brick Mill Road near the Dove Run Shopping Center will also be widened and include a median and two dedicated left turn lanes onto Route 299.
A roundabout will be added for the shopping center on Brick Mill Road to the ChristianaCare emergency department entrance. Patients seeking their primary care doctors at that medical office will enter and exit through the roundabout, reducing the need to use Route 299.
“I get a lot of questions about how this will be operationally feasible because it is close to a traffic signal,” Majeski said. “But moving the entrance to Dove Run back and adding the two turn lanes will help with circulation and we won’t have that backup.”
Marked crosswalks will also be installed at Dove Run Boulevard and Brick Mill Road
The stretch of East Main Street from Cleaver Farm Road and Catherine Street will still be two lanes, but contractors will add a center turn lane. A signaled intersection will be added at New Street, optimally solving another logjam on Route 299. Right now, westbound drivers are forced to wait out traffic to make a left turn.
A dedicated left turn lane will be added at the Catherine Street intersection. Intersection improvements will be coordinated with the new continuing construction of the Appoquinimink Community Library. Silver Lake Road and Cleaver Farm Road intersections will also be improved.
Other improvements include bike lanes in each direction of Route 299 and Brick Mill Road; bus pads at the Post Office, the Dove Run Shopping Center; a 5-foot sidewalk on the north side of Route 299 and on Brick Mill Road; and a 10-foot shared-use sidewalk on the south side of Route 299.
Right now, A-Del Construction Co. is installing curbs, sidewalks and drainage pipes, and most of the pipe work is being done at night. Traffic is shifted to the west on Brick Mill Road to accommodate construction on the east side of the road.
For more information, visit www.sr299improvements.com.