DelDOT’s $4 million reconstruction of Carter Road has dramatically improved vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle travel in Smyrna.
Carter Road, situated between Sunnyside Road and Wheatleys Road intersections, was once a narrow roadway with no shoulders and minimal pedestrian facilities. The roadway provides access to several residential areas, several businesses, two elementary schools, and the popular Smyrna Swim Club. It also connects vehicles to U.S. Route 13 where Smyrna’s primary business corridor is located. Improvements to Carter Road were originally envisioned by local residents as far back as 1999, so when Smyrna’s population almost doubled in size and commercial truck activity significantly increased on the roadway during the next 10 years, there was increased motivation to improve the roadway.
With the belief that all residents should have safe and sustainable travel options along Carter Road while still being able to accommodate commercial growth in the area, the project team focused efforts on widening Carter Road to two 11-foot travel lanes and two five-foot shoulders, as well as providing ADA-compliant curbs and sidewalks for pedestrians, bicycle lanes, and safer and more sustainable lighting along the roadway. As a simple example of the safety benefits of the new roadway, residents are now able to retrieve their mail without having to enter the roadway and fear oncoming traffic. Furthermore, since Carter Road is flanked on both sides by residential properties, mitigating stormwater was a key design consideration. Finally, DelDOT requested that the roadway be reconstructed using Full Depth Reclamation; FDR, because of Carter Road’s importance to local residents and the town’s rapidly growing economy. This technique limits waste and reduces construction truck traffic, meaning that the project team could significantly minimize the inconvenience to local residents and commerce.
Urban was responsible for project development, public outreach, concept through final design and plans, specifications and estimates and construction consultation. The design incorporated LED lighting, the first LED lighting project ever for DelDOT, and best management practices in stormwater management. Improvements included widening Carter Road to two 11-foot travel lanes; two five-foot shoulders; installing curbs and sidewalks for pedestrians; bridge widening; a drainage system for stormwater; relocation of utility poles; street lighting; bicycle lanes; ADA-compliant sidewalks and ramps; and a new signal at the Sunnyside Road intersection.
The project was challenging for a couple of reasons. One, residents of Smyrna had originally envisioned improvements to Carter Road in 1999. By the time design began in 2007, the project was very much under the microscope of the community. Therefore, public outreach became critical to advancing a design that would later be welcomed and applauded. Two, we had to design the roadway so that it would support the use of FDR during construction. This meant that extra focus was directed at grade changes, the presence of existing utilities, side road intersections and driveways, culvert crossings, and enclosed drainage systems.
The Carter Road Project illustrates that major quality of life improvements can be made by rethinking the approach to how local roadways are designed and constructed. Carter Road should be a model for future roadway projects because it addresses the need for alternative modes of transportation, encourages a better quality of life and safety, and incorporated sustainable, cost-effective designs to achieve this.