With hope for lower US 113 speed limit, Dagsboro council OKs preliminary plans for Royal Farms move

Jonathan Street, architectural engineer with Becker Morgan Group highlights preliminary site plans for the proposed new Royal Farms in Dagsboro at the northeast corner of US 113 and SR 26. The current Royal Farms is on the southeast corner of that intersection.

DAGSBORO – Local movement for lower posted speed on DuPont Boulevard in Dagsboro comes with Royal Farms’ plans to move from the south side to the north side of the US 113/Clayton Street intersection.

Following discussion mainly about traffic, Dagsboro town council Monday night cast 4-0 approval to preliminary site plans for the new Royal Farms gas station/convenience store.

With final site approval, the new store will be built at the northeast corner of US 113 and SR 26 on parcels that include a former medical building, a residential property and another open parcel. It borders Savannah Square Shopping Center and Cea-Dag Court apartments development.

Plans include a dedicated left turn into the store from Clayton Street and a 290-foot turn lane off US 113, Jonathan Street, architectural engineer for Becker Morgan Group said in a presentation to council.

There is no planned dedicated right turn into the store for westbound traffic on Clayton Street, he said.

“What we are trying to do is create a more dedicated left-in on the site, and kind of push that through lane out a little bit. So, we are widening that section of the road,” Mr. Street said.

Traffic and safety were hot topics, along with concerted hope the state will agree to lower the US 113 speed limit to 45 miles per hour in that area.

The request for a 45-mph speed limit was facilitated by Becker Morgan following an initial meeting with DelDOT.

“It’s combination. We’ve been asked by Becker Morgan, the architect, to address it,” said Dagsboro Town Administrator Cindi Brought. “There is a lot of concern from the council along with the police. We already have so many problems at that intersection. Becker Morgan did their own traffic study and all of the accidents out there. That’s why there is the suggestion to lower the speed limit.”

The request to DelDOT must come from the town. “So, we’re sending a letter with back-up from Becker Morgan. Whether it will be approved, who knows?” said Ms. Brought. “We just figure it will be a lot safer because you also have the turn lane going into Savannah Square along with the new exit/entrances (at Royal Farms).”

Councilman William Chandler expressed concerns about vehicles attempting to exit the store onto Clayton Street and having to potentially cross three lanes of traffic. He also predicts there could traffic headaches along the entrance on US 113.

Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey believes the proposed 290-foot right turn lane off US 113 coupled with a lower speed limit would greatly enhance safety.

“You’ve had collisions at that intersection before. Normally, it’s because of someone not paying attention coming out of Clayton, trying to merge where there is no merge lane now or anything,” said Chief Toomey. “If DelDOT sees fit to approve our speed reduction … at least there would be a turn lane there that they could get over and get out of the way. When we reduce that speed to 45 mph rather than 55, which everybody is going 65 … I actually think it’s a safer situation, from what I can see.”

Posted speed limit on US 113 through Dagsboro is 55 mph. In the towns of Millsboro and Selbyville, it’s 50 mph on US 113, Mr. Street noted.

Chief Toomey added that posted speed limit on US 13 in Harrington and Greenwood is 35 mph.

“I think it depends on the congestion. DelDOT will do a traffic study before they will approve anything I am sure,” said Chief Toomey. “We’re just kind of throwing our two cents in there that we would like to see that happen.”

“DelDOT only does certain things and they don’t do certain things anymore; like the acceleration lanes,” said Ms. Brought. “They do the studies and they tell us what is good and what isn’t.”

In addition, a pedestrian crosswalk initially designed to cross three lanes of traffic on Clayton Street has been moved to the intersection recently upgraded by DelDOT. That change came out of the recent meeting with DelDOT, Mr. Street said.

“My biggest concern if you recall was that congested area with the crosswalk being there, but we moved that. We talked about it. We discussed it and we moved that. It used to go right across those three lanes. So, you would have not only the traffic, but you would have pedestrian traffic as well. That has been moved, and moved substantially,” said Chief Toomey. “In my opinion it is a lot safer now by moving that pedestrian crosswalk out of the way.”

The current Royal Farms building on the southeast corner of those roadways will be re-used for some type of other retail, Mr. Street said. Royal Farms will dismantle and remove the gas pumps and tanks at the existing store, Ms. Brought said.

Traffic was also a main topic at the recent meeting of the town’s planning and zoning commission, which recommended preliminary site plan approval.

“Short and sweet, after some discussion we approved the plan,” said planning and zoning commission vice chair Cathy Flowers. “There was a lot of discussion about safe entrance/exit. And it was discussed that the speed limit may be getting lowered. But I didn’t hear any more about that. We were in favor.”

At present, Royal Farms’ plans do not include a car wash.

Mr. Chandler polled Kyle Gulbronson, the town’s AECOM consultant, for his take on the preliminary plans.

“I think they’ve addressed all of the concerns we had,” said Mr. Gulbronson. “I know the traffic concerns were the major situations that we talked about tonight.”

Council members Theresa Ulrich, Norwood Truitt, Patrick Miller and Mr. Chandler approved Two Farms Inc. (Royal Farms) request for preliminary plan approval. Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull was away on a family matter.

Final site plans, which can include changes and modifications, must come back before council for approval.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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