There were no guard rails separating the north and south lanes of Route 1 in Delaware where five members of a New Jersey family were killed Friday afternoon. Construction on a barrier in that area will begin later this year.
A 60-foot median divides the north and south lanes of Route 1 near Townsend where 61-year-old Audie Trinidad of Teaneck, New Jersey, and his four daughters were killed. A pickup truck driven by 44-year-old Alvin S. Hubbard Jr. of East New Market, Maryland, crossed that median and crashed into Trinidad’s minivan as the family was returning from a trip to Ocean City, Maryland.
Installing guard rails in an area like that wasn’t standard practice when Route 1 was built, according to Delaware Department of Transportation’s C.R. McLeod.
“A median width of this size did not typically necessitate any additional barrier,” McLeod said Monday. The highway that connects northern Delaware to the state’s beaches was built over a number of years with various sections opened on a staggered schedule. The final section — including the site of Friday’s accident— opened in 2003.
Plans to install a high-tension cable barrier system along a 11.5-mile stretch also include the scene of last week’s crash. “Roadway departure crashes are one of our strategic safety emphasis areas,” McLeod said, referring to crashes when a vehicle leaves the highway.
Construction on the barrier system from Odessa to Smyrna will begin by the end of the year. Another barrier will be extended along a 12-mile stretch of highway south of Smyrna. “It is an ongoing program that we are working on and ensuring that we do address these types of crashes,” he said.
There are also plans for new barriers along a stretch of I-95 heading south from the Delaware/Pennsylvania state line. “That’s going to address another 2.5 miles of currently unprotected median there as well,” McLeod said. “We are working to address these areas around the state to hopefully prevent future occurrences of these roadway departure crashes.”