News

May 16, 2001

Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred wants to send DelDOT back to its drawing boards to redesign the planned Blue Ball interchange at Concord Pike and Foulk Road. It wants a full, rather than a partial, interchange there.

The influential civic group also wants now to keep the controversial intersection at Augustine Cut-off the way it is and to eliminate plans to run a secondary 'local-service' road through the proposed park and open space.

"It doesn't make any sense to acquire all that parkland and then have it chopped up with roads," said Daniel Bockover, president of the council. "There is no reason we have to have cars and trucks driving through the meadow."

He said the organization's executive committee took the stance at its closed-door April meeting. It was not disclosed at the most recent public meeting of the full membership, but has been communicated to Delaware Department of Transportation in anticipation of a scheduled workshop-style public hearing on the Blue Ball road plan on May 22. That session will run from 4 until 8 p.m. in the cafeteria at Brandywine High School.

Phil Lavelle, Brandywine Council's land use chairman, said, however, that the executive committee did not actually endorse the plan, but "approved presenting [it] to the state and the community for consideration." He added that, while "Dan's plan does have its merits, ... not all of us are sure that the plan decided upon by the public advisory group should be scrapped [because] that would be a contentious and difficult proposal." Bockover said he stood by his previous statement that his proposal had been endorsed.

On its Web site, Brandywine Council has asked viewers to use the hearing as an opportunity to "take one more look" at the Blue Ball road network plans.

Bockover said Brandywine Council supports the desire of Delaware Greenways and its executive director, Gail Van Gilder, to have a simple underpass to enable pedestrian and bicyclists to cross Concord Pike. That original proposal grew as

Brandywine Council said this kind of interchange makes more sense than ...

the complex design DelDOT has come up with for the Blue Ball interchange.

DelDOT officials pushed for an interchange to handle 'regional' traffic and mate Concord Pike with a new spur road coming downhill from Powder Mill Road.  'Local' traffic would be shunted to a separate road connecting Augustine Cut-off and Foulk and Rockland Roads.

To take such a road through the Greenway tunnel would require making it much higher and wider than would be required for walkers and bikers, Bockover said.

With a full cloverleaf-style interchange at Concord Pike and Foulk Road, the auxiliary road would not be necessary, hesaid. No matter what it is called, he added, it would invite drivers to transverse the park. "They can put up all the signs they want, but speed limits won't mean anything. It'll just be a way for [drivers] to get from Point A to Point B," Bockover said, adding that that will pose a safety hazard to children and other park users.

He said he previously suggested to DelDOT officials that they conduct a demonstration off-season opening of the road through Bellevue State Park, which can be made to connect Philadelphia Pike and Carr Road, to through traffic "to see what will happen" with a somewhat comparable arrangement at Blue Ball. "They don't want to hear that," he said.

He added that he has personally supported constructing a full interchange at Concord Pike and Foulk Road on the assumption that retaining the present intersection would not provide sufficient capacity when the Astra Zeneca headquarters expansion is completed. It generally is agreed that that corporate project provided the impetus for the planned road network.

DelDOT offered a 'choice' between a full and a partial interchange to the advisory committee which studied the Blue Ball project. The partial one -- which came to be called a 'diamond' in the department's publicity material -- was chosen as the preferable option.

Bockover said Brandywine Council commissioned an engineering drawing of its proposed cloverleaf  -- which it is calling a "citizens' compact interchange" -- to illustrate that such an arrangement could be placed there without taking as much parkland and open space as the supposedly limited DelDOT design. Because the turns would necessarily be tighter than cloverleaves on limited-access thruways, it would not be a high-speed one, he explained. Traffic lights in the DelDOT design would similarly limit speeds, he added.

More to the point, he said, the design would be nowhere near as complex as the road labyrinth DelDOT favors.

"I've never been able to get them to really evaluate a full interchange. That is why I insisted on [their] having a 3-d(imensional) model made," Bockover said. The model is to be displayed at the public hearing. "When people try to trace the route with their fingers, they get lost. What's going to happen when they get out on the road?" he quipped.

Bockover said retaining the present Concord Pike-Augustine Cut-off intersection poses no great concern. The traffic signal there, he said, is about equidistant to the south of Foulk Road as the signal at the entrance of Independence Mall, which DelDOT proposes to keep in operation, is to the north.

DelDOT's original plan to close the Concord Pike-Augustine Cut-off intersection turned out to be the most controversial issue in the original consideration of the Blue Ball plan. Resolution of the controversy held up former Governor Thomas Carper's approval of the plan for several months. The eventual decision was to retain a partial intersection where right turns would be allowed without a traffic signal.

2001. All rights reserved.

Get more information about this topic

Go to the Delaware Department of Transportation Blue Ball Project Web site
Go to the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred Web site

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