State Route 1

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Totaling 103.02 miles in length, SR 1 provides the primary route between the popular Delaware Beaches of Sussex County with the Wilmington metropolitan area and points north into Pennsylvania via I-95. SR 1 was commissioned by 1974 to replace SR 14 northward from the Maryland state line at Fenwick Island to U.S. 113 north of Milford. The route extended north to Christiana in 1991 as work progressed on the U.S. 13 Relief Route, predecessor to the SR 1 Turnpike. U.S. 13 and SR 1 overlapped while construction took place to the 2003 completion of the toll road between Dover and South St. Georges.

Delaware State Route 1 Guides

Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway Overview - background, maps and detailed history of the toll road.

The state route runs north from the end of MD 528 at Ocean City through the coastal communities of Fenwick Island, South Bethany and Bethany Beach. The Coastal Highway opens along a narrow stretch of land separating Indian River and Rehoboth Bays with the Atlantic Coast along Delaware Seashore State Park. The signature Charles W. Cullen Bridge carries travelers across Indian River Inlet along the scenic four lane highway.

Charles W. Cullen Bridge

The Charles W. Cullen Bridge took four years to construct at a cost of $150 million. It opened initially in January 2012 and fully in May 2012. 06/18/12

Replacing a concrete girder bridge that was built in 1965 and expanded in 1976, the Charles W. Cullen Bridge carries four lanes of traffic across a 108 foot wide deck. The cable-stayed bridge spans the brisk tidal currents of the Indian River Inlet at a height 45 feet, ten feet higher than the predecessor span. Two 248 foot tall pylons support the 2,600 foot long bridge.2

Tidal scouring taking place at the base of the 1965 bridge resulted in 100 foot deep holes at the base of the span. Protective riprap was added by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1980s around the 23 foot bridge support columns to offset the scouring. The strong tidal currents however continued to scour the inlet, and by 1999 it was measured at 100 feet deep. Efforts to replace the span gained support as safety of the existing SR 1 span became increasingly at risk. DelDOT first proposed a single-arch radial-tied bridge for the inlet in 2003. However with the single $200 million bid received at $50 million more than the allocated budget, the state redesigned the span downward in 2005.3

Initial work followed in early 2006 on a proposed 1,400-foot span, but was delayed in 2007 when the dirt approach ramps for bridge settled improperly and shifted to the west. $20.8 million was lost on the 2006 work and that plan was scrapped in favor of a cable stayed bridge design with piers sunk into the soil instead of the earthen ramps.4

A new contractor, Skanska USA Civil Southeast, took over in June 2008. The initial schedule called for completion of the span by the end of 2011, but weather and other delays pushed the time table back another month. Fortunately this did not incur additional costs as the $150 million project stayed within budget. The two sides of the bridge were joined on October 18, 2011.3

The new SR 1 bridge opened to traffic on January 20, 2012 to accommodate two-way traffic on the southbound side,1 and fully on May 6, 2012. With public input during the design phase, support cables were painted blue. They are illuminated at night, but only partially during the early morning hours to reduce electricity costs and light pollution.3 The span is named after Charles W. Cullen, who was a member of the State Highway Commission from 1930 to 1940, and its Chairman in 1938 and 1989. A native of Georgetown, Cullen promoted economic and recreational benefits of Indian River Bay and advocated for the permanent establishment of the inlet.5

Northward into the town of Dewey Beach, the divided highway transitions into a slow moving, four to six lane arterial. SR 1 turns away from the coast along a congested commercial strip through Rehoboth Beach and Five Points. Suburban development extends northwest along the route to Midway, where SR 1 (Coastal Highway) transitions back into a rural divided highway.

A $9.79 million project expanded SR 1 to three overall southbound lanes with the addition of a shared use / right-hand turn lane, extended sidewalks and added two pedestrian signals and pedestrian traffic enhancements. The 2.7 mile stretch between SR 1D/24 and a point 1,100 feet north of the Five Points intersection with U.S. 9 was also resurfaced. Work ran from September 11, 2006 to April 30, 2008.6

SR 1 (Coastal Highway) runs northwest from Midway across mostly open agricultural areas with four lanes and a grassy median. A signalized intersection joins Coastal Highway with SR 16 at Broadkill Neck. Work from 2021 June 2022 to 2024 Fall 2025 replaces the at-grade connection with a diamond interchange.

An older bypass alignment takes the route west of Argo Corners to the crossing of Cedar Creek. Just north of there, SR 1 reaches the city of Milford and exit ramps with Wilkins Road and SR 30. Construction for the folded diamond interchange with SR 30 took place between December 3, 2012 and July 23, 2014. It replaced an intersection with flashing lights.

Milford, Delaware - map created in October 2007.

The state route bypasses Milford to the east along a controlled access expressway while SR 1 Business lines Rehoboth Boulevard through the city. A bypass was previously considered for either west of Milford, from the Thompsonville Road interchange to U.S. 113 south of the city, or between SR 1 near SR 30, and U.S. 113 south of the city.

The Milford bypass includes wye interchanges with SR 1 Business and U.S. 113, and a diamond interchange with SR 36 (Cedar Beach Road). Construction from February 2018 to August 2019 added a parclo A2 interchange in place of the at-grade intersection with SR 14 (NE Front Street) and New Wharf Road. Right in and right out movements replaced the crossover at NE 10th Street as well. The overall project was substantially completed by Spring 2021.

SR 1 overtakes Bay Road from U.S. 113 in north Milford to Dover Air Force Base. U.S. 113 was cosigned with the state route until 2004, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved an application by the state to truncate the route southward. Bay Road retains the characteristics of Coastal Highway through northern Sussex County with four lanes separated with a grassy median through mostly agricultural areas. Upgrades along the corridor between Milford and Dover have improved traffic flow and safety.

Just north of Milford, an $11.5 million project replaced the intersection with Thompsonville Road with a folded diamond interchange. Over 120 accidents were recorded within a tenth of a mile of the traffic light in the ten years leading to the project start in February 2015. Ramps for Thompsonville Road opened to traffic by early November 2016.7

SR 1 bypasses the community of Frederica to the east through an area of wetlands associated with Murderkill Creek. Frederica Road loops west from Bay Road to Front Street, where it becomes part of SR 12 east from Felton back to SR 1. Finished on June 28, 2011, a trumpet style interchange replaced the intersection with Frederica Road to the north. Subsequent work built a parclo interchange with new access roads in place of the at-grade intersections with Frederica Road north, Milford Neck Road east and Tub Mill Road north. This project was underway from March 2016 to Fall 2019.

Work started in February 2015 involving upgrades for SR 1 through Little Heaven focused on relocating 16,300 feet of sewer pipe. The utility work was completed in October 2015 in preparation for shifting the state route to the east.8 The old lanes were converted into a west side service road adjacent to the new SR 1 expressway. Exit ramps replaced the signalized connections with both Bowers Beach Road east and Clapham Road (former U.S. 113 Alternate) north. At-grade intersections with Barratts Chapel Road west and Skeeter Neck Road east were replaced with right in and right out (RIRO) connections. Phase 1 road work started in November 2015, with Phases 2 and 3 following soon thereafter. Construction wrapped up in Fall 2019.

With the exception of two driveways and a farm access road, completion of the Little Heaven Grade Separation project extended the controlled access portion of SR 1 southward from Barkers Landing and the St. Johns River. The remainder of SR 1 north travels as a limited access highway to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway at Dover Air Force Base.

Delaware State Route 1 - 2015 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

  • 20,105 - Maryland state line to SR 54
  • 10,425 - Fenwick Island to South Bethany
  • 32,360 - SR 26 to north Bethany Beach
  • 23,755 - Indian River Inlet to Dewey Beach
  • 64,372 - SR 1A to SR 24
  • 55,614 - SR 24 - U.S. 9 / Five Points
  • 23,928 - SR 30 - SR 36
  • 43,394 - U.S. 113 to Road 10 / Frederica
  • 40.971 - Clapham Road / Little Heaven to Dover city limits
Delaware State Route 1 scenes
Inlet Road winds south alongside SR 1 into Delaware Seashore State Park. The Charles W. Cullen Bridge rises by the frontage road to span Indian River Inlet. 06/18/12
A SR 1 trailblazer directs motorists from Indian River Marina back to the state route along Inlet Road north. 06/18/12
SR 1 spans Indian River Inlet southbound en route to Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island from Delaware Seashore State Park. North from Inlet Road, the state route remains through the state park to Dewey Beach. 06/18/12
Access roads join both sides of SR 1 with the Delaware Seashore State Park campground and day use area south of Indian River Inlet. The service road passes under the Charles W. Cullen Bridge just east of the campground area. 06/18/12
Trailblazers direct motorists from the Delaware Seashore State Park day use area along the Atlantic side to the South Inlet Road access roads for return access to SR 1. 06/18/12
Turn Point Road runs along Indian River Inlet to the east side of the Charles Cullen Bridge between a waterside subdivision and the Delaware Seashore State Park campground area back to SR 1. 06/18/12
Old Landing Road ventures north from Warrington Neck off Indian River Bay as a suburban road to SR 1 (Coastal Highway) at Midway. 06/18/12
Canwit Drive east ties into the access road linking U.S. 13 (Dupont Boulevard) with the South Smyrna Interchange of SR 1. 12/31/16
The Smyrna Bypass portion of SR 1 wraps around the east side of town across Mill Creek, SR 6 and Duck Creek. The Dover Bypass runs just east of U.S. 13 (Dupont Highway) and Cheswold to the Scarborough Road connector at north Dover. 12/31/16

  1. "New Indian River Inlet Bridge To Open To Traffic On January 20." Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), press release. January 10, 2012.
  2. "Indian River Inlet Bridge Open to Traffic." Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), press release. January 20, 2012.
  3. "A bridge for this century: Charles W. Cullen Bridge opens at Indian River Inlet." Coastal Point, May 25, 2012.
  4. "Delaware probes Indian River Inlet Bridge cost." Roads and Bridges, November 13, 2007.
  5. Indian River Inlet Bridge. Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) project web site, accessed January 27, 2017.
  6. Route 1 Expansion Project from Route 24 to Route 9/Five Points Intersection. sr1_expansion/index.shtml Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) project web site.
  7. "DelDOT: SR 1 Thompsonville grade separated intersection now open to traffic." Milford Chronicle (DE), November 10, 2016.
  8. "Barratt's Chapel Road work just the start." Delaware State News (Dover, DE), June 14, 2015.

Photo Credits:

06/18/12, 12/31/16 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 95
U.S. 9
U.S. 13
U.S. 40
U.S. 113
State Route 5
State Route 6
State Route 8
State Route 9
State Route 10
State Route 12
State Route 14
State Route 16
State Route 20
State Route 23
State Route 24
State Route 26
Multi State Route 54
State Route 404
State Route 896
State Route 1A
State Route 1B
State Route 1D
State Route 1 Business
Route 528

Page Updated 12-30-2022.

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