By Rebecca Jones

Recently, a Seaford Facebook page was ablaze regarding the relatively new turn-off behind Grotto’s and Wawa, which exits onto Tharp Road. Apparently, the buzz was that, even though the exit is designated a “right-turn only,” certain motorists ignore the sign and either drive directly toward the Walmart directly across the street, or turn left, headed toward Route 13. 

In addressing the possible situation to both Seaford Police Chief Marshall Craft and Seaford Director of Public Works, Berley Mears, they brought up points surrounding the initial installment of the road and other developments around the city. 

Pictured are plans for the Market and Front Street Pedestrian and Traffic Calming improvements. Drawing provided by the city of Seaford

Both Mears and Craft pointed out that, as the area had not been annexed by the city of Seaford at the time of building Wawa, the road itself was considered a state road; therefore, the right-turn only exit was studied, designed and implemented by DelDOT.  Both men also stated that the best way to possibly deal with the trouble of vehicles turning the wrong way from the exit would be to install “delineator-posts,” orange poles that force traffic to travel a designated route. Chief Craft added there could also be a possibility of painting a huge white arrow with “turn only” onto the road heading toward the exit. However, taking that particular action would be up to those who own the private road. The good news is, at the time of printing, Craft reported no crashes have occurred at the exact site of the exit. 

Talking about the road brought up discussions about other concerns in the city. Mears said people should use caution when traveling near Gateway Park in Seaford. Traffic delays are to be expected from now until mid-summer between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily as the city installs improvements to the park. Mears stated for this pedestrian project, the city will redo the sidewalk along the Miller building, add crosswalks, provide connectivity from the sidewalks to the park and add signage coming from Blades. 

Also, Mears said that even though the roads surrounding Gateway Park won’t be closed, the park itself will be shut down during construction. He added to contact Seaford City Parks and Recreation Department if you or your organization wished to hold an event so that you can instead utilize one of Seaford’s many other locations to meet in a park setting.

Chief Craft said that the Seaford Police Department was never contacted regarding the turn-off onto Tharp Road because the city of Seaford just took jurisdiction of the road – and many other areas – only within the past few months. He said what he can do is recommend certain safety efforts to the city of Seaford  to try to reduce the risk of accidents at that spot. 

Craft also talked about a few other areas of concern: namely, the intersection of Herring Run Road and Bridgeville Highway, West Stein Highway near the Montessori School, as well as the Bridgeville Highway/Virginia Avenue area. He said he is planning to put together speed and crash studies, which take time. He says he is also awaiting the second reading of the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance on Feb. 22. 

Craft stated with Amazon coming into the area, as well as construction of an industrial park off of Ross Station Road, traffic is sure to increase, which can also cause crashes to increase. Also, with the latest annexations of roads and property to the city of Seaford, it has kept the police force quite busy. However, he acknowledged the Seaford Police force is working on ways to improve the community. 

Craft stated that following the speed and crash studies Seaford could possibly implement a few changes. Some changes the police chief said he’d like to see include: installing a traffic light at the Virginia Avenue/Bridgeville Highway, installing lights near the Montessori School, and installing a left arrow light at the Herring Run Road/Bridgeville Highway traffic light, heading toward Lowe’s. He pointed out a left-turn-only light already exists on the other side of the traffic light.

He also expressed that most crashes occur due to distracted driving. Craft said accidents have increased in Seaford from approximately 550 crashes to approximately 650. In 2021, 50 of those accidents occurred at the intersection on Route 13 near McDonald’s. He stated he wants to do what he can to reduce tragedies such as the fatality of two children last year. The studies, he reiterated, are just the beginning to help the community to be safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in the city.