of Transportation Nathan Hayward told a meeting of New Castle
County Council's land use committee on Apr. 16 that congestion
along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line and the quasi-public
railroad company's dire financial position effectively rule out
pursuing the project any time in the foreseeable future.
rejected the idea of having Delaware Transit Corp., a unit of
Delaware Department of Transportation, participate in a
feasibility study which Wilmington Area Metropolitan Planning
Council has agreed to undertake.. "I don't want to spend a dime
on [a study] because I already know the answer," he declared.
taken aback by the apparent finality of Hayward's position,
Christopher Koyste, president of Fox Point Association, declared
at previously scheduled meeting of that civic association the
same evening: "Just because he's saying 'no' right now doesn't
mean it's a 'no'. His saying that just means we have more work
said that he was disappointed that the secretary "chose not to
attend" a recent association-hosted symposium on the project.
Had he done so, Koyste added, Hayward would have seen the amount
of support the project has among Delaware's congressional
delegation, state legislators, county government and at the
working level of the transit agency. The by-invitation dinner
session was held at Rockwood Mansion and, according to Koyste,
all but two of 20 attenders "were in firm support."
support. The momentum is there," said John Yaschur, a member of
the association involved in furthering the project.
comments to the Council committee, Hayward said he is supportive
of so-called 'multi-modal' transportation and public transit,
but described an Edgemoor rail station as politically and
economically impractical. "It is not a DelDOT issue; it's an
Amtrak issue. I don't think Amtrak officials would countenance
it," he said.
a year, Fox Point Association has advocated re-establishing the
Edgemoor stop on Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation
Authority's R-2 commuter line. In addition to the Wilmington
station, that line serves Claymont, Newark and a new station,
known as Fair Play, adjacent to the Delaware Park racetrack and
slot machine establishment. Delaware Transit subsidizes rail
service within Delaware. Septa leases track rights from Amtrak.
separate contexts at the Council committee meeting, Hayward said
Fair Play has exceeded patronage projections and requires
expanded parking accommodations and that Delaware Transit plans
to make improvements to parking, traffic flow and the station
a station at Edgemoor until the early 1980s, when it gave way to
the building of an interchange with Interstate 495. The
association has advocated putting a new station across from the
largely empty Merchants Square shopping center. It maintains
that could be an incentive for revitalizing the center, possibly
at a mixed-use venue of offices and shops.
said he doubted that effect would necessarily follow. "Mr.
[Frank] Acierno's focus, his energy and interest simply isn't
there," he said. Acierno owns Merchants Square.
another stop between Wilmington and Philadelphia would result in
further congestion on the Northeast Corridor line, Hayward
maintained. Moreover, he added, providing additional track
capacity would be cost-prohibitive, given Amtrak's financial
situation. "Amtrak doesn't even have enough money to put towels
in the restrooms in its stations," he quipped.
and Yaschur later countered that federal money is available for
public transit projects and national policy is directed toward
encouraging them. "There is 'funding' for these projects and
they're happening all over the country," Koyste said.
Delaware and the broader Delaware River Valley have an especial
interest in encouraging use of rail, rather than motor, traffic
because of its precarious status under the federal Clean Air
Act. Hayward's position, he said, is short-sighted in view of
the fact DelDOT stands to loose federal highway dollars if the
area's atmosphere continues to fail to meet federal standards.
association agreed to undertake an effort to build support among
public officials while the planning council's study is being
"We're not talking about building it
next year. It's going to be at least three or four years away,"