Rehoboth Beach Sidewalk Project Faces Delays - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Rehoboth Beach Sidewalk Project Faces Delays

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - Monday was set to be the groundbreaking for stage one of the major road project in the Lewes-Rehoboth area. And while some work got started, one section of the project, set for downtown Rehoboth was delayed for at least a month. 

The downtown work is part of the Route One Pedestrian Safety Project, which will cost approximately $14.4 million, making safety changes from just north of Five Points in Lewes, all the way down to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. While the work on Coastal Highway will proceed as planned, the sidewalk repair work being done on Rehoboth Avenue is being delayed following requests from neighbors to put on the brakes. 

That section of the work calls for the reconstruction of the sidewalks in between the downtown circle and Fifth Street, in order to make them compliant with the Americans with Disability Act regulations.

Hayden Evans, who owns West Star Mortgage, a business on that block, said that people were blind sided by the initial announcement that work would begin on Monday. 

"We found out when they were marking the streets with pink marking," he said. "Neighbors and I came out of the businesses and we were asking them what's going on. He said 'we're starting next week to re-do and tear up your sidewalks.'"

Evans, like many in that block were concerned by this news, arguing that the construction would hurt local businesses during October, which is increasingly a busy month for tourism. 

"The retail businesses," he said. "It would hurt them dramatically. We also have some events. I believe we draw 100 thousand plus for the Seawitch festival. We have the Jazz Festival coming up. I mean these are two important items for the city."

Enough constituents complained to get State Representative Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) involved. He reached out to DelDOT to try and get the date changed, and as a result a public forum was held Monday afternoon. Through the meeting, DelDOT suggested that the new start-date should be October 27. 

"They're going to rip out sidewalks when we have sidewalk sale weekend coming up," Schwartzkopf said. "That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We have Seawitch coming up which is one of our biggest draws in town besides fireworks." 

Some neighbors raised concerns Monday about the date of October 27, saying even that wasn't late enough. Some neighbors said they wanted a November deadline, once the tourists were truly gone. But Shante Hastings from DelDOT said going any later was risky. 

"Weather is a factor," she said. 

Hastings said that work of this nature would be impossible once the temperature drops below 35 degrees. She said that any work that is not finished before winter, would have to wait until Spring. 

"You could get rain for all of November, and then it could push it to Spring," she said. "Obviously we're not weather forecasters, but given historical trends - we should be able to get this done." 

The vast majority of the Coastal Highway project will focus on pedestrian safety. The state will add 127 new street lights as well as six new handicapped-accessible crosswalks up and down Coastal Highway. 

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