Delaware 7 exists in two overall landscapes in northern New Castle County. From the southern terminus at Wrangle Hill northward to Red Lion, the state route retains some remaining rural character. However between Bear and the Pike Creek Valley, the fields and woods of Delaware 7 have succumbed to suburban sprawl and the route comprises a four to six lane arterial instead of a two-lane country road.
Signed as far back as 1938, Delaware 7 traveled between U.S. 13 (Dupont Highway), Red Lion, Bear, Christiana, Stanton, and the Pike Creek Valley to the Pennsylvania state line west of Hockessin. The route still follows generally the same path except for a few exceptions. The 1995 opening of the SR 1 Turnpike Chesapeake & Canal Bridge and freeway between St. Georges and Tybouts Corner displaced U.S. 13 between Delaware 7 (Bear-Corbitt Road) and Delaware 71 (Red Lion Road). Portions of the original Dupont Highway were built upon for the new six-lane freeway. Other segments were relegated to local use and otherwise abandoned. From Delaware 72 (Wrangle Hill Road) northward the Dupont Highway became an extension of Delaware 7. Since U.S. 13 overlaps with Delaware 1 between Wrangle Hill and Tybouts Corner, the south end of Delaware 7 was left in tact along the Dupont Highway. Rather than have the state route end there it was extended along the four-lane highway to junction U.S. 13 & Delaware 72 at Wrangle Hill.
A second change to the routing of Delaware 7 involves the 1991-93 construction of the SR 1 Turnpike between Delaware 273 (Christiana Road) and Interstate 95 adjacent to the Christiana Mall. Delaware 7 intersected the Delaware Turnpike there via a cloverleaf interchange and short four-lane segment. The construction of the new freeway utilized that alignment southward to the Christiana Mall and a new roadway from there to Christiana Road. The path of Delaware 7 was altered so that Stanton Christiana Road was discontinuous between the mall and village of Christiana itself. Delaware 7 now overlaps with Delaware 1 from Delaware 58 (Churchmans Road) southward to a new access road between Stanton Christiana Road (original Delaware 7) and the Christiana Mall. A partial-cloverleaf interchange provides the merge/split of Delaware 1 & 7 north of Christiana.
In the early 1980s Delaware 7 bypassed a narrow section of Stanton Christiana Road between the merge with Delaware (Ogletown Stanton Road) and village of Stanton at St. James Church Road. A new six-lane arterial was built west of the old bridge with two access roads to the old Stanton Christiana Road. The concrete arch bridge over the White Clay Creek was subsequently abandoned when the new roadway opened. Reasonings for the new alignment involved the flooding of the two-lane underpass at the AMTRAK Northeast Corridor and flooding of the arch bridge over the White Clay Creek.
Delaware 7 follows Dupont Highway and Bear-Corbitt Road northward from Wrangle Hill to the village of Red Lion. There the state highway intersects Delaware 71 (Red Lion Road). The area is undergoing growth associated with the expansion of the Wilmington metropolitan area. However Red Lion still remains somewhat unchanged itself. North of the hamlet Delaware 7 crosses the Norfolk-Southern Railroad and enters the crossroads with U.S. 40 (Pulaski Highway). The state's deadliest intersection is the center of the Bear, a suburban community named after the late 19th century Bear Tavern which once resided there. Although several traffic accidents a year occur at the U.S. 40 & Delaware 7 intersect, plans to build a Delaware 7 overpass over the Pulaski Highway appear to be shelved indefinitely. Otherwise the junction is flanked by three shopping centers, a corporate complex, and branch of the county library.
The development occurred fast and furious along Delaware 7 (Bear Christiana Road) between U.S. 40 and Delaware 273 (Christiana Road). The two-lane highway was to intersect an extension of Newtown Road midway between Bear and Christiana. Newtown Road would have departed Delaware 1 via a wye interchange westward to Delaware 7, Walther Road, and Salem Church Road. Community opposition led to the cancellation of this project and the road now is just a short spur between Bear Christiana Road and Smalleys Dam Road.
Delaware 7 intersects Delaware 273 (Christiana Road) just west of the Exit 162 diamond interchange of the SR 1 Turnpike. Until the mid 1980s Delaware 7 & 273 overlapped north along Main Street through the village of Christiana. However the opening of the four-lane Christiana Bypass removed Delaware 273 and its associated through traffic from Delaware 7 (Main Street) and Christiana itself. When the Delaware 1 opened between the Christiana Mall and Delaware 273 in 1993, Christiana again saw a reprieve from through traffic. The counts were cut so drastically in 1993 that the traffic light at the intersection of Main Street, Old Baltimore Pike, and Stanton Christiana Road was switched from normal operation into a caution/stop phase. Unfortunately traffic has again returned to the hamlet with the addition of the Eagle Run Shopping Center on Browns Lane between Main Street and Delaware (Stanton Christiana Road). Thus a traffic light again is fully operation at the downtown intersection.
A partial interchange at the Christiana Mall was constructed in 1979 along with additional ramps at the Interstate 95 interchange. The southbound cloverleaf ramp from Interstate 95 to Delaware 7 opened that year allowing a direct connection for the southbound movement. Previously traffic was required to use the Churchmans Road off-ramp nearby to access Delaware 7 southbound via Churchmans Road west (Delaware 58). The situation here again changed between 1996 and 1999 with the opening of a partial-cloverleaf interchange at the junction of Delaware 7 & 58. When the ramps opened and Delaware 7 no longer intersected Delaware 58 at-grade, Delaware 1 saw extension slightly north and the interchange became Exit 166.
Between Delaware 58 and Delaware Technical and Community College and Stanton, Delaware 7 joins Delaware 4 through the Churchman's Crossing vicinity. Once touted as Metroform, a planned city/town was to be built along the corridor between the 1980s and 2010. Thus far very little has come out of the idea with the exception of the Fairplay Train Station at Delaware Park. Delaware 4 & 7 travel through wetlands areas associated with the White Clay Creek between their merge at Ogletown Stanton Road and split at Limestone Road (Stanton).
At Stanton Delaware 7 turns northward from Delaware 4 (Wilmington and Christiana Turnpike) via Limestone Road into the Pike Creek Valley. The heavily travelled corridor features four overall lanes between Stanton and Brackenville Road. A large commercialized intersection composes the junction between Delaware 7 and Delaware 2 (Kirkwood Highway). North of there another cumbersome intersection exists with Milltown and McKennans Church Road. Delaware 7 ascends from there into the Appalachian Piedmont to Linden Hill Road, Mermaid Stoney Batter Road, and Delaware 72 (Curtis Mill Road). Between 1975 and 2004 Limestone Road has undergone a metamorphosis from a two-lane rural road into a four-lane suburbanized arterial. Widening extended the four-lane section northward from Delaware 72 to Brackenville Road between 1999 and 2003.
The final 1.7 miles of Delaware 7 (Limestone Road) in the Diamond State remain at only two-lanes. The stretch however is fairly developed and a large shopping center (Lantana Square) exists at the Valley Road intersection. At the state line Delaware ends and Limestone Road continues into Chester County, Pennsylvania. 0.9 miles north of the border is a grade separated intersection with Pennsylvania 41 (Gap Newport Road). The stretch of Limestone Road between Delaware and Pennsylvania 41 is not assigned a number.
A History of Limestone Road by Rush Wickes
This used to be a two lane concrete road all the way from the Pennsylvania state line until the intersection with Milltown Road. There was a truck climbing lane for northbound traffic on the long hill in between Arundel Village and Linden Hill Road,(though I don't remember now if that extended all the way up the hill). There was a business called 'Armours' selling fireplace related material just up the road from Arundel, it shut soon after the expansion of the roadway in the early nineties.
Traffic lights along the way when I first started traveling the road were at
- Paper Mill Road.
- Mermaid Boulevard/Goldey Beacom College
- New Linden Hill Road
- Arundel Drive
- Milltown Road
- Pickwick Dr.
- Kirkwood Highway
- middle school (flashers)
- Route 7 and Route 4.
- Route 7 and Churchman's Road
- Route 7 and Christiana Mall Road access ramp
Up until the mid-eighties, the intersection was a conventional r-y-g signal arrangement, with a shoulder lane for northbound through traffic to get around vehicles turning onto Paper Mill Road. There was an unconventional doghouse for Paper Mill Road traffic, with yellow/green arrow heads in both directions and a red ball that stayed illuminated at all times (to emphasize that you HAD to turn at this intersection I guess).
In the mid-eighties, a doghouse (five head) signal was added for northbound 7 traffic, but real flow improvement didn't occur until the addition of the new roadway and widening of the old one, allowing for dual left turn lanes from northbound Limestone onto Paper Mill. Originally these turn signals were four headed 'turns permitted on flashing red arrow', but the short merge area on Paper Mill and heavy traffic on southbound route 7 caused DELDot to switch them to conventional r-y-g arrow heads.
The next signals to be installed were to the north Brackenville Road and later, the Valley Road intersections. Both of these intersections were the scene of very ugly accidents over the years. According to what I have been told, U.S. Senator Joe Biden's first wife was killed along with their daughter, while his two young sons in the back were seriously injured after being struck by a truck at the intersection in 1972. They were on a trip to go shopping for a Christmas tree at the time. Why a signal didn't appear here until the late nineteen eighties is unclear to me, I would have to guess that traffic volumes on Valley Road weren't heavy enough to warrant installation.
Originally there weren't any permissive/protected left turn signals here, but a doghouse was first added to Northbound 7 at Brackenville, then at Valley Road as well -- the southbound 7 doghouse at Brackenville came most recently, along with separate green phases for opposing directions Brackenville Road. Both of these intersections will be significantly widened with forthcoming widening to Limestone Road.
The infamous blinking green signals at Jarrell Farms and Mendenhall Village Dr. were added in the late nineteen eighties. Separate green phases were introduced for both neighborhood roads several years ago, but were not originally incorporated. This intersection sorely needs improvement as there aren't any left turn lanes for Route 7 traffic here.
To the south of Paper Mill, the signals at the Limestone Hills shopping center didn't exist until the center itself opened in the late 1980's. Originally it was a conventional r-y-g signal arrangement, one which has changed with time and increased traffic capacity to incorporate doghouse protected turns for both directions of Route 7 and dedicated flow phases for traffic outbound of the Limestone Hills complex and the development
The intersection of Mermaid Boulevard and what is today Mermaid-Stoney Batter Road, was quite different in the early eighties. Whereas today Mermaid-Stoney Batter Road runs just adjacent to Goldey Beacom College, that road was at one time just an emptying point for traffic coming out of the parking lots there.
The signals facing that side permitted only left turns, you couldn't drive straight across Limestone onto Mermaid Boulevard. Coming off Mermaid Boulevard into the Limestone Road intersection, the left lane was always an automatic green phase while a car intending to go straight into what was then the GBC parking lot had to trip the detector to get a green ball.
New Linden Hill Road and Limestone Road was controlled by vintage sun-faded 12" Eagle signals, before widening occurred. Traffic making a left turn from northbound Limestone onto Linden Hill had a doghouse signal to do so, I don't remember if there was a dedicated lane to do so though.
Milltown Road and Limestone Road was controlled by 12" red, 8" yellow/green Eagle brand signals with doghouse units for left turns. Of note, McKennan's Church Road was not signalized at that point, nor was the special access road by the Mealey Funeral Home constructed. As a result, traffic tended to get tied up in knots trying to get through that intersection. With widening of the road came replacement and enhancement of the signal systems there as well.
Curiously, I've wondered why the fresnel units for Milltown Road in the eastbound direction at Limestone originally included a red right turn arrow for traffic turning onto Route 7 north. I thought that it would become illuminated during left turn cycles for both directions of Milltown Road, but in several opportunities of observing the cycling, I never saw it illuminated. Oh well, the signal head in question was removed years ago.
Nothing too significant to report about the intersection of Pickwick Drive and Route 7 in the Limestone Gardens area. The 12" Eagle signals were replaced with McCain heads several years ago and protected flow phases were introduced for the side streets, as well as pedestrian heads.
The signal heads for Route 7 at Kirkwood Highway (Route 2) have remained the same over the years. However eastbound route 2 switched from controlling left turns with a protected/permissive doghouse to a protected/prohibited pair of r-y-g arrow signals several years ago. I believe this was due to drivers having difficulty in seeing and measuring the speed of westbound vehicles in the through lanes.
The westbound direction has a protected/prohibited doghouse that was returned after a brief, unsuccessful attempt to channel left turning traffic onto southbound Route 7 with two dedicated left turn lanes (the left of the three through lanes was converted to that purpose with both left turn lanes receiving arrow heads). This frustrated motorists and DELDot quickly did an about face, going back to one turn lane, which can back up significantly and spill over during rush hours.
The two signals further along Route 7 just beyond the railroad overpass were placed in the early nineties. The signals at the Stanton Middle School were upgraded to 'X' wire from Jersey pole style with protected/permissive doghouses and pedestrian heads being included in the new array. The signals are only put in non-flash, normal operating mode during school opening/closing hours.
The intersection of Route 7 and Route 4 is just ahead. Originally this intersection was controlled by black painted 12" red, 8" yellow/green Eagle signals. Traffic turning northbound on Route 7 from eastbound Route 4 had to frequently wait for the westbound Route 4 light to turn red for them. I don't have any idea how traffic headed from Route 7 southbound to eastbound Route 4 managed to get across that intersection successfully with all the northbound 7 traffic turning from eastbound 4. Of note, the Exxon station was previously a brand called 'ALERT'.
The signals along the multiplexed 4 and 7 at Telegraph Road and Delaware Park Blvd. weren't installed until the new alignment of the roadway opened in the mid-to-late 1980's. Prior to the six lane roadway opening, traffic used to travel on a two lane alignment which crossed the Red Clay Creek on a two lane overhead concrete arch bridge then under a low underpass of the Amtrak rail lines. Route 4 (then Ogletown-Stanton Road) turned off from Route 7 at a signalized intersection marked by the Hale-Brinton house, which is a state historical site.
There were two conventional 12" red/yellow/green Eagle signals facing each direction of that 'T' intersection. During construction of the six-lane roadway, traffic along Route 7 was detoured at this turn to follow Ogletown-Stanton Road (Route 4) and then make a left turn onto what is today Route 4 west of the Churchman's Road intersection to continue on to the mall area. The signals at the Hale-Brinton house intersection spent their last days flashing some unusual arrow, I believe it was a yellow right and left turn arrow in the 'green' position. What a way to go! Anyhow, Ogletown-Stanton Road has now been dead-ended by the embankment of the overpass for Route 7. Now Route 4 is multiplexed with Route 7 along the bypass route for about a half mile longer to the new alignment where it turns off en route towards Ogletown and Newark.
Route 7 in between today's Route 4 and Route 58 (Churchman's Road) was widened from two to four lanes in the very early eighties. Recently the intersection with 58 has been changed from a 4 sided- dual left turn/through signalized junction into a flyover for both directions of Route 7. That should alleviate a lot of the congestion that occurred in the area due to all of the commercial and employee traffic in that region nowadays.
Route 7 used to proceed under the Christiana Mall overpass and make a sharp right curve through a signalized intersection that allowed traffic from northbound 7 to access the mall road via a jughandle and exiting mall road traffic to turn onto northbound 7. Most of the traffic I saw crossing this particular intersection were coming through the jughandle, not exiting the mall road, as there were other more direct ramps available for that traffic. It should be noted that the traffic headed onto the mall access ramp from Route 7 faced a very sharp, considerably sloped dual lane curve with no guardrail or other barrier between the outer lane and the through lane for Route 7 south. The signal and this unusual ramp were both eliminated with the opening of Delaware 1 and the access road was modified to allow for a longer, more gradual loop ramp.
Delaware 7 Mileage Table
|Southern Terminus||Northern Terminus||Names||Mileage|
|Wrangle Hill at Delaware 72||Pennsylvania line near Hockessin (Pennsylvania 41)||Dupont Highway, Bear-Corbett Road, Bear Christiana Road, Main Street, Old Baltimore Pike, Christiana-Stanton Road, Limestone Road||16.06|
Delaware 7 2002 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
- 12,254 - U.S. 13/Delaware 72 to Delaware 71
- 23,867 - Newtown Road to Christiana Bypass
- 68,063 - Old Baltimore Pike to Interstate 95
- 55,985 - Delaware 4 overlap
- 35,946 - Delaware 4 to Delaware 2/Kirkwood Highway
- 24,321 - Mermaid Stoney Batter Road to Delaware 72
Delaware 7 Terminus Collection
Delaware 7 Highway Guides
Page Updated October 5, 2007.