A safe bike lane is of vital importance to a well-managed town. It’s used by residents and passers thru. Dewey is the only nearby town without a dedicated bike lane (or path) so it’s of extra importance.
Thats why the huge curb incursion into the bike lane has now become infamous and quite embarrassing for Dewey, being on the front of yesterday’s newspaper and elsewhere known by fellow cyclists. We heard and understood and accept that the town manager and Mayor are/were “on the issue” after the curb was built into the bike lane. You mentioned that at the Council Meeting last evening. But as the comedians say... it’s all about the “timing.”
Why? the town was well aware construction would be taking place, well before it began.
When? nobody seemed to recall that the Mayor announced in glowing terms in his “Mayors Corner” many months ago that the area would be a DelDOT construction site and even added that the bike lanes would be “improved.”
The point - entirely missed in the discussion - is that the town did not ask for or receive blueprints or plans prior to the DelDot construction (or if it did not review any). I confirmed that fact with Scott yesterday. And IF there were no blueprints the town easily could’ve requested-demanded that there be some, he confirmed he did not. Scott said something about field engineering that only adds to a semi-comical narrative of who made that decision and was it made on a Friday afternoon too close to quitting time.
Prior to construction is the right “timing” to object and modify it to accommodate the needs for the residents (and bicyclists). Easements could be reviewed and options developed. And if DelDot refused any blueprints or plans and ADA ramps were “decided” by “field engineers” as Scott claims, that could have been prevented or have supervision by a paid town official. Now nobody claims they are accountable.
So for Dewey to be “on the issue” after construction would mean asking DelDOT to tear it out or reconstruct it somewhere else both difficult and costly - and unlikely. That’s where we are now. It’s back to expecting some basic level of conscientiousness of the town manager. In such cases it’s a town managers job to avoid such issues before they become issues, by the means described above. For a major construction project the citizens should expect a well compensated official to do that. No company could be allowed by its customers to get away with the type of excuses we’ve heard over the past week, when blaming DelDot. Dewey, not DelDot, has to deal with the failure after the fact, (and let’s be honest that the town manager is not a resident or in any way inconvenienced, unlike us, have his path blocked by the eyesore).
The question to the Mayor and Town Manager is - other than announcing the upcoming improvements in the Mayor’s personal newsletter - was ANY preparation or planning done by the town with DelDot prior to the project being undertaken? The results seem to indicate none was, and that’s why Scott or TJ are the reasonable focus of accountability.
It really isn’t too much for us to expect. Now bikes, people and cars have to pay attention daily to avoid that hazard, and that takes a lot of time - more time than avoiding the hazard by preparation would have. Dewey can and needs to expect better, especially for a bike lane especially since we are now the only populated town in the mid-Atlantic I know of without the amenity of a dedicated or marked bike path or trail, a modern rarity for a coastal tourist town.
Jeffrey C. Smith
Dewey Citizens for Accountability (DCA)
Ps “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Painfully Poor Performance” (Military quote)