FENWICK ISLAND – Citing concerns for pedestrian safety, officials in Fenwick Island last week agreed to purchase crosswalk signs for each designated path.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council made an impromptu decision to purchase crosswalk signs in an effort to bring attention to pedestrians crossing the streets.
Mayor Gene Langan said the decision came at a critical time for the town, which experienced a busy summer season this year.
“I’ve been coming down here my whole life before we moved here,” he said. “In my 34 summers, this has been the busiest summer I have ever seen down here. We’ve had the most people and the most cars.”
Langan said it was evident that pedestrian safety should be a top priority for the town. In addition to installing sidewalks along Coastal Highway, he also recommended town officials begin the task of looking at crosswalks along the town’s main thoroughfare.
“For example, the crosswalk right out here at Bayard Street is a disaster because cars are doing U-turns, people are trying to walk across, and there is no place in the middle, no landing, for these people,” he said. “We really have to do something about this.”
Langan told the council it was the responsibility of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to maintain crosswalks along Coastal Highway and urged officials and community members to share their concerns.
“We’ve really got to push them,” he said.
Councilwoman Vicki Carmean, chair of the town’s pedestrian safety committee, said crosswalks were among the many concerns voiced by residents at a recent committee meeting. She said she relayed those comments to Fenwick Police Chief William Boyden.
“We’re in a very unusual position,” Boyden told the council. “Not only are we the furthest point in the state, we’re clearly the furthest point of interest to the state.”
Boyden said since his conversation with Carmean, he had reached out to DelDOT officials and several pedestrian safety committees appointed by the governor. He said it was through email correspondence that he learned the town would have to sign an agreement and pay for the signs to install crosswalk signage along Coastal Highway.
“The rough estimate for the signs would be about $3,000,” he said. “That doesn’t include the installation. Our public works would be doing the installation themselves.”
Boyden, however, noted that the cost of the signage was not included in the town’s budget for the fiscal year.
“If you are concerned about pedestrian safety, I highly recommend everyone as an individual email your state representative, state senator, the secretary of transportation and express your concerns,” he said.
Boyden noted that other coastal towns, including Dewey, Bethany and South Bethany, also had to purchase their own crosswalk signage along the highway.
“I have also reached out to several organizations in the state to get some funding,” he said. “It’s not a ton of money, but I don’t have it in my budget. The budget has already been approved.”
Councilman Bill Weistling, however, suggested the town consider purchasing the crosswalk signs. Langan agreed.
“I think we should do that,” he said. “We have to be proactive on this.”
With no further discussion, the council voted unanimously on a motion to purchase the crosswalk signs.
“I don’t see this getting any better as time goes on,” Carmean said. “I’ve never seen a summer like this.”