As it stands Carpenters Pit Road and Calvary Road are currently one-way streets. These roads are used primarily to access the Hampton Inn off of Del. Route 1 and the Lighthouse Estates development.
The streets, however, have caused a bit of concern recently, as safety of the road has been questioned by the inn's officials and the leaders of Lighthouse Christian Center, which owns the land on which the roads are situated.
Milford City Council was made aware of the issue during its regular Monday meeting.
"I can tell you that in the course of a week I have guests who stay in my hotel who go the wrong way down the road and come back in scared and in tears saying, 'Please tell me how to get out of here. I almost got in an accident,'" said Jenny Bartow, director of operations for the Hampton Inn in Milford. "It's definitely a safety hazard."
A portion of the land is scheduled to be utilized for the future home of the Lighthouse Christian Center and a Christian school, but before either facility can be constructed the church must first raise funds by selling the additional commercial pad sites surrounding the hotel. Chain restaurants and retailers are being deterred from developing on the site due to the one-way, said Lighthouse Christian Center Pastor Royce Andrus.
Andrus claims the reason behind the traffic flow issues occurred because of an error.
Lighthouse Christian Center submitted the plans for a bridge that would run over Swan Creek, adjacent to Carpenters Pit Road and New Wharf Road to the Delaware Department of Transportation, which approved the plans. In the process of installing the bridge, a misalignment occurred, leading to the roads no longer being suitable for two-way traffic, Andrus alleges.
Geoff Sundsrom, director of public relations for DelDOT, said the bridge is not owned or maintained by DelDOT, nor did the agency construct the bridge.
"It is my understanding that as a developer, the responsibility was on him to identify an engineering firm and construction firm to bring that road into conformance with state standards if they wanted it in the state system. It is currently not in the state system. Mr. Andrus had a bridge put in that was not to state standards. I don't know how that happened, but in any event the alignment of the bridge is such that it is not safely configured for two-way traffic."
Milford City manager Richard Carmean said DelDOT did what it was tasked with doing, which was approving the bridge for construction, but the roads surrounding the bridge were not in DelDOT's purview to assess at the time.
"I think that DelDOT was tasked in their mind with approving the bridge, the structural quality and the engineering," said City Manager Richard Carmean. "I think that is the focus and the parameters they set. They didn't look at the road leading up or the road leading off. They looked at the bridge. I don't think there is any way to assess blame on them."
Page 2 of 2 - Andrus has proposed that the City of Milford adopt the roads. If that happens, the roads could be re-configured and signed off for two-way traffic.
DelDOT will not allow the road to accommodate two-way traffic without serious improvements to the bridge and roads that lead to the hotel and subdivision, the expense for which would be placed on Lighthouse Christian Center, Andrus said.
"If Milford wanted to they could consider taking possession of the road," City Manager Richard Carmean said. "Work could be done out there that would allow the bridge to be two lanes and Calvary Road to be two lanes all the way through Carpenter Road, at least until the traffic grew to a certain volume."
Even if the city elects to adopt the road, improvements will have to be made to widen the shoulders of the roads, Carmean said.
"I've talked to several legislators who have certain highway funds they can grant the city," said Carmean. "They took the amount of money that DelDOT said it would take to make it a two-way and they were going to give the city that money to do that work."
After hearing Andrus's proposal the council decided to assign the issue to the Public Works Committee, chaired by Councilmen Owen Brooks, Dirk Gleysteen and Bryan Shupe. The committee will further discuss the matter and will come back to council at a later date to present their decision for council to vote on.