Delaware Community Plaza sits on the west side of U.S. Route 23 in Delaware, but not all vehicles entering and leaving the shopping center use Route 23.
Hundreds of vehicles a day instead use West Hull Drive, through the Ravines at Stratford subdivision, to travel between the shopping center and Liberty Road to the west.
Delaware City Council on Feb. 11 discussed what, if anything, could or should be done to mitigate that traffic.
City Engineer Bill Ferrigno gave council an update on traffic concerns presented to the city "over numerous years" about West Hull Drive, in particular since Ravines of Stratford residents asked the city in 2017 for meetings on the issue.
His presentation included documents that identified 13 "residential collector" streets and showed West Hull the second-most heavily traveled in the city, exceeded only by traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue. Streets not on that list include William Street and Central Avenue, which also are state or federal highways, and Sandusky and Winter streets.
Traffic can access West Hull from Community Plaza's northern edge. Ferrigno estimated that vehicles leaving the shopping center make up 80 percent of West Hull's westbound traffic.
Statistics for the residential collectors show West Hull averages 2,472 vehicles a day, and Ferrigno said one recent traffic count showed 2,981 vehicles a day. The documents also list an average 26.2 mph vehicle speed on West Hull.
Discussion of West Hull has implications for the entire city, Ferrigno said, because many streets are heavily traveled during peak hours.
Two other streets, Cottswold Drive and Hawthorne Boulevard, also can be used to travel between Liberty Road and Route 23.
Those streets and West Hull, Ferrigno said, might be further affected by four traffic projects planned along Route 23. One of those projects will close the median on Route 23 at West Hull; another will install traffic signals at Route 23 and Hawthorne, he said.
Ferrigno said no action was taken when the city reviewed West Hull traffic in 2002. Some have advocated, he said, keeping all streets open to through traffic.
West Hull traffic could be reduced, he said, by placing a no-left-turn sign at the northern edge of Community Plaza.
The city could take such a step as a temporary pilot study, he said, but its effects could not be accurately gauged until some of the Route 23 projects are completed.
While they would not reduce traffic volume, Ferrigno said, "passive" traffic-control steps have been shown to prevent speeding.
One example would be pavement striping to narrow travel lanes to 10 feet.
City Manager Tom Homan agreed that street design can help control speeding. On all residential collectors, he said, how to control speeding is an ongoing debate.
A pertinent question, Homan said, is "how to do that in a way that balances the resources we have as a police department and the tolerance of residents ... with what they perceive sometimes as speed. Sometimes it's not."
Ferrigno said he will give council a follow-up report in 60 days, with details including the cost of passive control options and whether residents could be asked to share the cost. Some passive options, such as concrete islands in the center of the road, could be cost-prohibitive, he said.
Council member Kent Shafer said when residents come to the city with a problem, "We always try to do something to mitigate the situation."
Council member Lisa Keller said she appreciates that residents brought the concern to the city.
"To me, one of the reasons why this is tough is because I don't feel like we have a target of what the problem is that we're trying to solve," she said. "I saw a bunch of numbers and statistics. What I'm seeing is no significant crash history on Hull, no significant speed issue. Just a lot of cars."