Middletown Transcript
  • DelDOT studying Middletown-area intersection after crash involving teens

  • A crash that hospitalized three St. Georges Technical High School students last month has helped convince the Delaware Department of Transportation to re-examine the Hyett’s Corner Road and U.S. Route 13 intersection.
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  • A crash that hospitalized three St. Georges Technical High School students last month has helped convince the Delaware Department of Transportation to re-examine the Hyett’s Corner Road and U.S. Route 13 intersection.
    “DelDOT is currently conducting a new traffic study at the intersection that will examine traffic volume and recent crash data to determine what options, if any, might be warranted,” agency spokeswoman Tina Shockley said last week. “It’s something we’ve done at that location in the past and found no changes were warranted, but anytime there is a major crash like this, we take it very seriously.”
    The crash that prompted the traffic study occurred about 3:10 p.m. on March 27, when a flatbed tractor-trailer broadsided a 1997 Plymouth Breeze as the car was crossing the southbound lanes of Route 13 from Hyett’s Corner Road to the northbound lanes of the highway.
    The 17-year-old Newark boy who was driving the car was admitted to Christiana Hospital in critical condition. School officials this week said his condition has since been upgrade, although he remains at the hospital.
    Two other students who were passengers in the car were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released the day of the crash.
    The tractor-trailer driver was not injured and no charges have been filed, according to Delaware State Police.
    “It was a bad accident that upset a lot of families, especially the parents of students at St. Georges,” said State Rep. Rebecca Walker (D-Townsend), who has two children who attend the school on Hyett’s Corner Road. “I’ve been trying to convince DelDOT to make changes at that intersection for years, because there’s a lot of traffic there during the morning and in the afternoon when school lets out so I’m glad that they’re at least looking at it now.”
    Walker said the intersection was worse last year when roadwork west of the school forced a larger number of school buses and student drivers to head east to the Route 13 intersection, where traffic on the two-lane Hyett’s Corner Road is controlled by a stop sign before it enters the four-lane, divided highway.
    “There isn’t even a right turn lane there, so a school resource officer had to go out and direct traffic because it was so heavy,” she said. “And at that point the school asked if there was anything that could be done at the intersection, but DelDOT still said no.”
    Cathy Demarest, a spokeswoman for the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District, said the intersection has been a concern ever since St. Georges Tech opened in 2006.
    “There was a traffic study done then, but at that time there were no student drivers using the road,” she said. “It wasn’t until about 2010 that we had a full cohort of student drivers using the roadway and there’s been a lot of additional housing development in that area since then.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Today, more than 1,000 students attend St. Georges Tech although it is not known how many of those students drive to school each day.
    Both Walker and Demarest said they’ve heard numerous suggestions about potential improvements to the intersection, including a permanent traffic signal, a traffic signal used only during peak hours, the addition of acceleration and deceleration lanes on Route 13 and even closing off the cross over lanes and forcing traffic to turnaround at Boyds Corner Road, which does have a traffic signal.
    Shockley said DelDOT is not prepared to comment on possible remedies at this point.
    “We don’t want to jump to conclusion about what would be the safest option,” she said. “We don’t want to just put something up that we think will work only to find out that it’s created a negative impact somewhere else. That’s why we do these studies.”
    She said the traffic study could be completed in the next four to six weeks, although it could be longer before any changes will be implemented, if at all.
    “If we determine minor improvements, like signage and striping, are warranted, the changes could be implemented relatively soon,” she said. “But if larger changes are needed, the discussion then turns to funding and the project will have to be prioritized against all other DelDOT projects in the works.”
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