There’s little argument that the intersection of U.S. Route 113 and Kruger Road is dangerous.
But state legislators, business owners and local residents are at odds with DelDOT over whether a traffic light would effectively reduce accidents at the busy intersection just south of Georgetown.
“It seems obvious to us that a traffic light is the only thing that makes sense,” said Georgetown resident Lit Dryden, who has been helping to lead a grassroots campaign for improvements at the intersection. “DelDOT’s engineers have looked at it, done traffic studies and held public hearings, but what they’ve proposed just shows me that they’re just not grasping the enormity of the problem.”
The root of the problem, Dryden said, is the intersection forces traffic crossing U.S. Route 113 east onto Wood Branch Road or west onto Kruger Road to pause in the center the divided highway.
The 28-foot-wide median, where only one vehicle at a time can wait, is barely sufficient for a passenger vehicle, and highly dangerous for school buses, farm equipment, tractor-trailers and any vehicle with something in tow, Dryden said.
“Their back ends hang out into the left lane of the highway and they just have to wait there like that until they can cross,” he said. “A lot of the traffic on the highway, especially in the summer, is heading to or from the beaches, and those people don’t know the area and aren’t paying enough attention to see these vehicles before it’s too late.”
The crossover lanes also are laid out at angle that requires drivers to turn their heads more than 90 degrees to see the oncoming traffic, he said.
The intersection has been in place since U.S. Route 113 became a four-lane divided highway in the 1960s.
But Kruger’s Trailers co-owner Paul Kruger, whose business is located immediately west of the intersection, said residential growth in the county, combined with recent changes to nearby Zoar Road, have exacerbated the danger.
“Nowadays, we probably see about three major accidents there a year,” he said. “If they would just put a light in, I think it would solve the problem.”
DelDOT spokesman Geoff Sundstrom said the state agency does not believe that to be the case.
“Clearly this is an intersection of concern, due to the volume and severity of the accidents that occur there,” he said. “But we’ve studied this area to determine whether the characteristics justify the installation of a signal and we have found it is not justified at this time.”
Page 2 of 2 - Sundstrom said he has not seen the study’s conclusions and could not comment on why a traffic signal is not warranted at the intersection.
He did say, however, that DelDOT is looking to add more road signs, improve the lane striping and add overhead lighting.
“But also we’re planning to meet with community members again in the next few weeks, and that could influence the ultimate decision,” he said. “I would say the matter is not closed at this point.”
State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-Georgetown) and state Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) said they intend to keep raising the issue until a traffic light is installed and the median is widened.
“I’ve been working on this since I was first elected and there is no question in my mind that a signal is what is needed,” Briggs King said. “I think it’s ironic that when we were in the boom period for new development, the state was requiring private developers to make improvements to that intersection, including a new signal, but now that the onus is on DelDOT they don’t want the gold standard that they expected of others.”