Government agencies are often criticized for wearing blinders and not being aware of the consequences of their actions, and perhaps there’s no better example of this than this summer on Route 54.
After a public and private outcry from residents, motorists and businesses along the corridor, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced last Friday construction will cease through Labor Day during the day along Route 54. Effective immediately, contractors will work between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and no work will continue to take place on the weekends.
"DelDOT has acted quickly and responsibly to address concerns raised by motorists, business owners, residents emergency responders and legislators," said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt in a prepared statement. “A financially-prosperous beach vacation season is vital to the economic viability of many resort businesses in Delaware. Full and part-time residents who look forward to the summer beach season will also find it easier to reach local businesses and go about their daily routines."
That’s all well and good, but we have to wonder why DelDOT and other state representatives were not aware of the inconveniences this was going to cause along the busy road during the planning of this project. Officials should have been more proactive in realizing these issues would arise, rather than simply reacting to outspoken residents and business owners’ concerns.
Did officially really think it was going to be no problem to block lanes on the two-lane Route 54 during the summer? Was it never considered how much of a travel nightmare it was going to be for local and visiting motorists? Did they forget about the businesses who depend on summer sales to survive? Was it really thought it would be okay to block an entire shopping center’s entrance for hours at a time in the summer?
Surely, and we are giving the decision makers the benefit of the doubt here, there was a lot that went into planning this $8 million project, which is to be completed by next summer sometime. Additionally, the major improvements are going to be tremendous for all who travel the road.
However, at some point fault must be placed on those who inked the contracts to make this take place during the summer.
Although a lot of the damage has already been done to the tempers of local residents as well as the summer expectations for many commercial operations, the good news is the change has been made.
It’s better late than never is the only way to approach this unfortunate situation.