Meanwhile, he said in a 'press release', design work will begin
immediately looking to improve the Barley Mill-Montchanin Roads
intersection. According to the release, that project will cost
$10 million; it previously was estimated that the bridge project
would carry a price tag of between $11 million and $13 million,
in 2001 dollars.
long-awaited decision on the future of the bridge appears to
resolve a community controversy which goes back the better part
of a decade. The existing two-lane bridge is the only segment of
the heavily traveled state Route 141 that is not at least four
lanes wide and, since the route is primarily a commuter artery,
is considered a choke point at rush hour. Residents of the area,
however, have long maintained that a wider span would have the
effect of significantly increasing traffic and would make the
route especially attractive to through-truck traffic.
between Prices Corner and Fairfax carries more than 37,000
vehicles a day along roadways that have a mixture of limited and
unlimited access. East of Prices Corner, the route is a freeway.
At one time, the entire route was planned as a western
alternative to Interstate 95 around the city of Wilmington.
Public opposition blocked that, leaving the freeway to end
abruptly after crossing Kirkwood Highway. Some advisory
committee members used the term 'boulevard' to refer to the
portion of the route in the vicinity of the McConnell Bridge.
38-member advisory committee, which included representation from
the community, businesses and public and private interests and
met regularly for nearly a year, reached a compromise of sort
when it recommended last July that a parallel two-lane span be
built, but not until traffic counts indicated it was needed.
Hayward went along with that, announcing that Delaware
Department of Transportation would "begin comprehensive traffic
counts ... every six months" and a five-person panel would be
appointed "to help the department decide on the appropriate
timing for the new bridge construction."
consultants on the project estimated last summer that the
present bridge would reach its traffic-handling capacity in 2005
seems to have deviated from the advisory committee's
recommendation in one respect, noting that "future bridge
improvements will include plans for bicycle and pedestrian
access." The committee chose the bridge alternative which did
not include a bicycle and pedestrian lane on the grounds that it
would have nothing to link to on either side of the span. The
release was not clear whether 'future bridge improvements'
referred to construction of the parallel span or to improvements
after that is done.
say that DelDOT will cooperate with New Castle County government
and the Wilmington Area Planning Council on a study "to see how
best to plan for much needed transit, pedestrian, bicycle and
aesthetic improvements." That study, it said. will take a year
improvements to the Barley Mill-Montchanin Roads intersection,
the release said, will include adding turning lanes to the
roadways, putting utility lines underground, constructing stone
walls and landscaped buffers and medians adjacent to the Hagley
Museum site and linking traffic signals to the state's traffic
management center in Smyrna.
announced that DelDOT will begin the process necessary to
permanently designate 18.5 acres of mature forest adjacent to
the bridge to become permanent open space. Identified as
"surplus right of way" that evidently refers to property on the
steep slope between the Brandywine and the ridge along which
Powder Mill Road skirts the Du Pont Experimental Station.
Hayward's decision had been expected
early last autumn but evidently was delayed by what the release
refers to as "intense study required by state and federal
environmental and historic preservation statutes." It goes on to
say that design "must still be worked through a number of
important resource agencies, such as the state's Department of
Natural Resources & Environmental Control, the state's Historic
Preservation Office, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal
Highway Administration and others."