Featured PieceGovernmentThe Examiner

DOT Agrees to Pay for New Castle Officers to Direct Traffic on Route 120

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
Traffic was moving relatively well early last Friday afternoon on Route 120 near the intersection with Douglas Road and Hunts Place, not far from the culvert replacement project that has closed a portion of the state route.

New Castle officials convinced the state Department of Transportation (DOT) last week to pay for a town police officer to direct traffic at a critical intersection until the Route 120 culvert replacement project is finished.

Following a review last Tuesday evening of how the first week of work had progressed, the Town Board pressed project manager Junaid Syed to lean on the agency to authorize the additional cost of having an officer present during construction hours. Over the first week of work for the six-week project, there were reported backups in the area of the Route 120 intersection with Hunts Place and Douglas Road even though the first three days were during the Fourth of July week, which traditionally sees lighter traffic.

Police Chief James Carroll said with all traffic coming from the Route 120 bridge having to make a right onto Hunts Place to the northbound Saw Mill Parkway or a left onto Douglas Road rather than going straight, and drivers using Douglas as a posted detour, the situation required traffic direction.

“There certainly are times when it’s just too much volume,” Carroll explained. “Even with an officer directing traffic there will be some backups and delays, but it’s certainly an improvement by having an officer being there.”

At last week’s board meeting, Syed said he would reach out to DOT to request they spend the extra money for an officer during construction hours, which are generally about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. He sounded pessimistic that the DOT would authorize the expense since it wasn’t in the budget.

“So I will talk to my supervisor to see what we can do about it – hopefully before we complete the construction,” Syed said.

Within 24 hours, Carroll said the town was informed that the DOT was prepared to go to the expense of paying for an officer for the remainder of the project, which is expected to be completed by Aug. 18.

Carroll and Supervisor Lisa Katz also said there were large trucks that had contributed to bogging down traffic at the intersection, even though trucks are not allowed to use the car detour of Douglas and Hardscrabble roads. The 11.5-mile truck detour posted by the town is supposed to keep those vehicles on routes 117 and 133, Katz said.

Other issues that were observed during the first week were heavier volume on Kipp Street and occasional backups onto the Saw Mill Parkway on the northbound side at the exit 32 ramp as a result of backups at the Hunts Place and Route 120 intersection.

Carroll said the town is also working with the DOT to have the timing of the lights temporarily changed from having the longer green lights on Route 120 to having it on Hunts Place and Douglas Road. He explained that since no traffic will continue to move along Route 120 because of the closure at the intersection, the green light for Route 120 last week was still unnecessarily more than a minute long while the green signal for drivers on Hunts Place and Douglas Road was about 30 to 40 seconds.

Despite the traffic troubles, Syed reported good news last week in that the project remains on schedule to be completed on or before the Aug. 18 deadline. By the middle of last week, there had been seven or eight prefabricated sections of the 70-foot culvert that had been delivered to the site, he said.

Syed agreed to provided status updates at the board’s next two meetings, on July 25 and Aug. 8.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.