August 14, 2013 – US Route 40 Railroad Crossing Update

August 14th, 2013

On August 13, 2013, New Castle County received a heavy storm which flooded the Route 40 area.  The tracks were completely flooded across the entire roadway.  However, the newly installed drainage system worked very well, which allowed the contractor to get the water level down considerably.  They diverted it through the new system. 

A concerted effort was made by all, and because of this the railroad itself was prepared for the day’s work.  The railroad company removed all the tracks across Route 40, excavated all the saturated material, placed stone, compacted and then paved under the tracks.  Next, they placed and rolled ballast stone and started to set track panels all by 5pm on Tuesday, August 13.

Due to the storm, the tracks on the Shellpot Line were washed out in one area.  Therefore, railroad traffic in Delaware was shut down most of the day on Tuesday, August 13.   The railroad company was definitely under pressure to get this track open.  Trains (including ones using the Route 40 tracks) resumed operation in the evening hours of August 13.

As for site conditions, material that had been placed in the road box in the railroad’s right-of-way will need to dry out, but that should not delay any major work activities.  

After the storm passed, it was beautiful day, which gave the contractor the opportunity to move forward with the following work:

  • placed the remaining concrete sidewalk
  • finished the median crossover
  • completed curb work for the most part, with only the tie-in areas at the track remaining to be done (which cannot be completed until the railroad work is totally finished)

The rain did put the contractor slightly behind schedule, but the railroad company has been outstanding and their work has saved time in the overall contract.  If work progresses well today (August 14), the contractor should be back on schedule by the end of the day.     Work today, August 14, includes setting the casing pipe under the rail and completely tying in the new drainage system.

August 13, 2013 – US 40 Railroad Crossing Update

August 13th, 2013
Crews prepared the curb area for concrete

Crews prepared the curb area for concrete

On August 12, Mumford & Miller continued working between train traffic to:

Completely excavate the roadway box on both east and west sides of US40

  • Completely install drainage inlet basins
  • Completely install underdrain pipe
  • Completely install concrete drainage pipe
  • Completely backfill pipe trenches
  • Complete placement of base stone in all roadway areas
  • Worked to install the 30” casing pipe connecting the drainage system together and then began cleaning up their work site

Other work included:  continuing prep work for curb, gutter and sidewalk installation on the westbound lanes, west of the tracks, and placing base asphalt patching between the newly installed curb line and the roadway on the east side of the tracks.

Norfolk Southern has begun rail replacement work.  Work is progressing well.


August 12, 2013 – US 40 Railroad Crossing Update

August 12th, 2013
US Route 40 Railroad Crossing work occurs simultaneously with train traffic

US Route 40 Railroad Crossing work occurs simultaneously with train traffic

On Saturday (night), August 10, 2013, Mumford & Miller continued working, between train traffic, to complete the following:

-Almost all pipe and drainage inlets have been installed

-Completed 159 feet of piping

-Excavation of roadway box on east side of US 40.

-Utilized two excavators, backhoe, dozer, frontend loader, two dump trucks and a trench compactor to complete the work

On Sunday (day), August 11, 2013, Mumford and Miller continued to excavate the roadway box, placing material in the roadway box, and did some overall site cleanup.

Work is progressing on schedule.

August 8, 2013 – Route 40 Railroad Crossing Update

August 8th, 2013
Route 40 Railroad Crossing

Route 40 Railroad Crossing

Despite the somewhat rainy weather this week (August 5-9, 2013), work on the Route 40 Railroad Crossing Replacement Project did begin. The contractor, Mumford and Miller, who will be doing the drainage and paving work, began testing/locating of utilities, clearing the area, placing riprap at drainage outlets and were able to complete the first 16 feet of drainage pipe on August 5 and 6.

On August 7, contractor installed 172 feet of 24” concrete drainage pipe, and the first of eight drainage inlets.

All this week’s work is being done off of the roadway during nighttime hours, and therefore traffic on Route 40 is not impacted this week. Additional detour signs were also posted this week.

Beginning Friday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m., the full closure of the Route 40 railroad crossing will go into effect. It will remain closed around the clock for two weeks, unless work is completed sooner. It is scheduled to reopen August 26 at 5 a.m. This will allow the contractor and Norfolk Southern to work to replace the tracks and continue drainage and paving work.

Look for daily updates on this closure beginning Monday, August 12, 2013.

US Route 301 Archaeology Update

July 24th, 2013

Alternative Mitigation of the Polk Tenant Site (7NC-F-111)

Cross-section of a well excavated in the late 1980s

Cross-section of a well excavated in the late 1980s
at the Thomas Williams Site near Glasgow.


Versar continues to collect information on previously excavated wells from all over the state of Delaware. Last month we reviewed more than 100 archaeology reports prepared for DelDOT over the last 30 years.  That review found that at least 50 wells have been identified across the state as a result of archaeological research conducted in advance of highway improvements. Wells have been found on historical home sites, farmsteads, dairy farms, stores, and blacksmith shops dating from the mid-1600’s through mid-1900s.  Materials used in the construction of these wells included wood timbers, barrels, stone, and brick.  The wells consist of both square and round shafts, with round being the most common form. This month we will visit the Archives of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs in Dover.  There Versar researchers will review reports from non-DelDOT sponsored archaeological investigations.  We plan to examine reports conducted by other state agencies, federal agencies and the military, universities, or by volunteer community groups such as the Archaeological Society of Delaware.

To learn more about this site, visit:

Spring 2013 Project update

July 11th, 2013

The northbound I-95 to northbound Route-7 ramp was opened in May 2013.

Structural steel beams for the bridges was delivered throughout the spring and is all in place. Construction continues on the rest of the bridges, decks, overpasses, roadway paving, and retaining walls.

 The project is about 80 % completed.

 The northbound Route-1 to northbound I-95 flyover ramps and the southbound I-95 to southbound Route-1 flyover ramps will be opened during the Fall.

SR26 Advanced Overhead Utility Relocations

July 3rd, 2013

DelDOT’s self-imposed July 1 deadline for lane closures along SR26 has come and gone, and as planned utility companies have completed their scheduled work on time. This means that as of July 1, 2013 lane closures will no longer be required for overhead utility relocation work along Route 26. Overhead utility relocation work will continue through the summer, but without the need for lane closures. Delmarva Power and Verizon will continue to work on underground services, street light installation, moving facilities from old poles to new poles, and old pole removal. Thanks to the hard work of Delmarva Power, Verizon, Mediacom, and their sub-contractors, nearly half of the project’s utility relocation effort has been completed! DelDOT would like to congratulate Delmarva Power, Verizon, Mediacom and their sub-contractors on reaching this important milestone in the SR26 project. DelDOT would also like to thank the traveling public along Route 26 for their patience and understanding during this difficult operation.

US Route 301 Archaeology Update

July 1st, 2013

Here is the location of the Polk Tenant Site on the 1868 Beers Atlas Map.

F. W. Beers, 1868 Atlas of the State of Delaware

F. W. Beers, 1868 Atlas of the State of Delaware

And a photograph of a partially excavated well at the Polk Tenant Site.

Partially-excavated well at the Polk Tenant Site.

Partially-excavated well at the Polk Tenant Site.

US Route 301 Archaeology Update

July 1st, 2013

Update on the Dale African American archaeological site:

Samuel Dale’s Strange “Manumission,” 1854

The Samuel Dale who owned the Dale Site lived as a free man for most of his life. Born in 1791, he first appeared in the census as a free man in 1810. He was counted as a free man every ten years thereafter, all the way to 1870, shortly before his death. We were therefore shocked to find in the New Castle County deed book for 1854 an entry reading,

Know all men by these presents that I Nicholas Patterson of the City of Wilmington New Castle County and State of Delaware (Minister of the Gospel) from motives of benevolence and humanity, have manumitted and do manumit and set free from slavery my negro man Samuel Dale of St. Georges Hundred in the County and State aforesaid aged about forty years, he the said Samuel Dale having been the slave of James Haughey late of St. Georges Hundred decd who by his will gave the said Samuel Dale (among other things) to his children and the survivor of them, the only survivor of whom is Mrs. Eliza Patterson, formerly Eliza Haughey and now wife of the said Nicholas Patterson.

At first we thought that this must be some other Samuel Dale. After all, this document says Dale was about forty, and the owner of the Dale Site would have been about 65. So far as we can tell, though, the only other Samuel Dale living in St. Georges Hundred was the son of our Samuel Dale, who was younger than forty in 1854 and just as free as his father.  We also know that our Samuel Dale was connected to the Haughey family, and that the land Dale bought once belonged to the Haugheys. Besides, until recently many older people had only a vague notion of their own ages.  So the manumission must have been for the owner of the Dale Site.

But why was a manumission enrolled in 1854 for a 65-year-old man who had been living free for at least 44 years? Probably because of the other major event in Dale’s life that year, his purchase of the 20 acres of land that became his farm. Either when he proposed to buy the land, or when he tried to have the deed enrolled at the court house, somebody must have demanded proof that Dale was in fact a free man. If there ever was a written record of Dale’s manumission 44 years before, it had been lost. So Dale had to track down the only surviving daughter of his former master and persuade her husband to free him again, this time with proper documentation. Just one small sign of the difficulties faced by African Americans in the nineteenth century.

Dale Manumission

Dale Manumission

US Route 301 Archaeology Update

June 27th, 2013

Versar, Inc. has begun the work of writing up the Polk Tenant Site (7NC-F-111) identified in 2009 and then carefully excavated by the archaeologists at Richard Grubb and Associates.  The site includes the archaeological remains of a tenant or farm worker’s house that may have been part of the nearby C. Polk Estate.  It is located along the present path of US Route 301 west of Middletown near the Delaware/Maryland state line.  We know from archival research that the site was part of a farm run by members of the Evertson, Cyrus Polk, and William Taylor families during the 19th and 20th centuries.  Important features found by archaeologists at the site include a cellar, brick foundations, and a brick-lined well. 

In addition to writing up the site archaeology, Versar will be conducting a special study on wells in Delaware. Several of the sites along the Route 301 corridor had very well preserved wells, and while wells have been excavated at many sites across the state, there is still a lot we don’t know about these important features. Creating a synthesis of this feature type from across the state will provide an opportunity to expand what we know about how wells were built and used.

To do this, over the course of the next year or so, Versar archaeologists and historians will gather information on previously excavated wells from all over Delaware.  Some of the information to be collected will include the shape of wells that have been found, the methods and materials used to construct them, and where the wells occur relative to houses, barns or other structures.  We will also examine the methods archaeologists use to excavate wells.  We will summarize what is known about wells in Delaware and create a research tool that other archaeologists will be able to use to see how wells they find compare to what has been found before.  Our work began this month with a review of archaeological reports written for DelDOT.  So far, we have found more than 50 wells that we will be including in our study.