Millsboro Community and DelDOT Butt Heads Over Speed Limits - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Millsboro Community and DelDOT Butt Heads Over Speed Limits

MILLSBORO, De. - Community members from the Plantation Lakes development in Millsboro began mobilizing years ago over a perceived problem with the speed limit in their neighborhood. Community members were concerned with the stretch of road on Route 24 that sits in front of their development, where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour. 

Community members requested lowering the speed limit to 35 miles per hour on that road, but The Delaware Department of Transportation rejected that, citing traffic studies demonstrating that 50 miles per hour was safe and appropriate. Route 24 is a state-run highway, and so all decisions in this regard will be made by DelDOT. 
Frustrated, these community members brought their concerns to town council this month, and the town agreed unanimously that the 50 miles per hour speed was dangerously high. Lawmakers such as Rep. John Atkins, and Sen. Gerald Hocker have voiced their concerns over this rejection as well, saying that DelDOT should change their decision. 

Mayor Robert Bryan met with WBOC at the development. As cars zoomed by, he said the need for lower speed limits was dire. 

"Why wait until somebody gets hurt..." he asked. "I feel if DelDOT would come here some morning at 7:00 to a quarter to 7:00, and sit here until 8:30. They would see exactly what we're talking about." 

Geoff Sundstrom of DelDOT, said the rejection was based on traffic analysis methods that are used across the country. Amongst other factors, he said they used data from past accidents to formulate whether there was a risk on the roadway.  

"At DelDOT, we try to make data-based decisions," he said. "We try to apply traffic science and traffic engineering to what we do... And what we found is the data didn't really support us making a move in the zone in which the speed is lower."

Bryan said that this policy of looking at past accidents was a reactive strategy. He said he thought the department should be proactive instead. 

"We feel that it's something that needs to be addressed before an accident happens," he said. "Not after some child or an adult or anybody gets hurt." 

Across from the development, Vonda Joseph served up some pulled pork and brisket to neighbors at barbecue stand set up on her lawn Friday. She said everyone in the community wanted a reduction in speed. 

"We've had several crashes on our yard because we're just around the corner here on 24," she said. "They've hit our front tree. We've had someone killed here as well. We've had someone go into the woods. We've had the mailbox taken down 7 times."

She said it was upsetting to hear DelDOT's rejection. 

"For them to say no to something that is going to potentially save lives just absolutely doesn't make sense to me," she said

Visiting her stand was Neil Dickerson, one of the neighbors who started the fight to lower the speed limits. 
"We're just trying to send a message out," he said. "Is this going to take a tragedy to get something like this changed? Or can they just do it for the betterment." 

Sundstrom said that the community calls are being heard by the department.  

"We're not deaf," he said. "We do listen. If a persuasive argument can be made that causes us to take a second look at that science then maybe we will take another look down the road."
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