Community calls for immediate removal of detour signs, new traffic study
“Take the signs down now!” was the cry of hundreds of residents from neighborhoods lining Lancaster Pike who came out to a meeting Tuesday night at Wilmington Christian School to voice outrage over DelDOT’s seemingly arbitrary decision to redirect truck traffic onto that crowded thoroughfare from Rte. 41.
Dozens of representatives from impacted communities said they were “shocked” and “bewildered” by the unannounced DelDOT change that has resulted in the increase of at least 1000 trucks traversing Rte. 48 each week.
Residents demanded DelDOT immediately take down the signs that popped up along Lancaster Pike this summer without warning, and requested that the agency conduct a comprehensive traffic study before implementing any changes to current patterns.
The meeting last night was organized by the Route 48 Coalition, a grassroots group of citizens negatively affected by the increased truck traffic. They have held meetings, have over 1,000 signatures on petitions, are continuing to get organizational structures in place, and will not stop until the signs come down.
“Our purpose is to find a fair, equitable, inclusive and balanced solution to the truck traffic problem,” said Gale Hamilton, a member of the Route 48 Coalition who lives just feet from the truck traffic on Lancaster Pike. “In the meantime, as long as those signs stay up, we on Route 48 are suffering.”
Hamilton said that the roaring noise of the truck traffic is so deafening that things rattle in her house, the bed vibrates, and that she and her neighbors can no longer sit outside on their decks.
Community members last night also questioned the decision-making process for the change, claiming there had been no communication or advance notice that any rerouting was under consideration. A bi-partisan group of legislators representing impacted neighborhoods – Senator Greg Lavelle, Representative Deborah Hudson, Representative Joe Miro and Representative Gerald Brady – all confirmed they too had not been informed by DelDOT that a change was in the works. Senator Lavelle explained that he first learned of the situation from angry constituents contacting his office.
Many at last night’s meeting questioned the role of Senator Patricia Blevins in organizing a meeting for residents of Route 41 with DelDOT last year that inadequately notified residents of Rte. 48. That meeting is seen as one of the catalysts for the agency’s move. A News Journal report quoted Blevins claiming that Rte. 48 “is much more suitable for truck traffic.”
Neighbor after neighbor from or near Route 48 took the microphone to describe significant increases in traffic, near-misses, noise and pollution they say is damaging quality of life and property values. Questions also arose regarding DelDOT’s authority to make the change.
DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan declined to commit to removing the signs but agreed that a review of the situation was warranted and is going to do a comprehensive traffic count ASAP. Residents of Route 48 continue to gather signatures for a petition demanding a removal of the re-routing signs until the completion of a comprehensive traffic impact study.