May 7, 2001

Wilmington Area Planning Council has identified 42 intersections and 13 segments of highway in New Castle County as congested and in need of improvements. It said it will press to have that done.

But planner David Saladino told the council before it agreed on a congestion management system at its meeting on May 3 that expanding capacity should be a last resort. Although such a "quick fix" might often seem desirable at specific locations, "additional capacity may actually be adding to the problem," according to a staff report he presented at the meeting.

Before that, the report recommends, efforts should be made to reduce the amount of peak-hour driving, shift commuting

to other modes of travel, promote higher vehicle occupancy and improve roadway operations.

In an earlier interview, Ted Matley, the council's executive director, told Delaforum that the report and the study which led up to it represent the first time there has been a systematic approach to defining specific criteria for determining where congestion is a problem and what should be done to address it. Moreover, he added, a focused effort should prove more effective than the traditional method of relying upon pressure to deal with specific problems and locations.

"You don't want to fix one spot and just move the problem down the road. You want to identify congestion and come up with ways to relieve it in the context of the entire transportation system," he said.

Matley told the meeting

Rush-hour traffic congestion


Marsh & Grubb Rds.
Concord Pike & Murphy Rd.
Concord Pike & Fouk Rd.
Powder Mill Rd. & Rising Sun Lane
Powder Mill & Old Barley Mill Rds.
Kennett Pike & Rising Sun Lane
Augustine Cut-off & Lovering Ave.
Centre & Barley Mill Rds.
Centre & Faulkland Rds.
Mill Creek & Stony Batter Rds.
Mill Creek & McKennons Church Rds.
Kirkwood Hwy. & Limestone Rd.
Elkton Rd. & Christina Pkwy.
Kirkwood Hwy. & Harmony Rd.

Centre & Faulkland Rds.
Ogletown & Harmony Rds.
Christiana & Harmony Rds.
Christiana Bypass & Old Baltimore Pike
Old Baltimore Pike & Salem Church Rd.
S. College Ave. & Old Baltimore Pike
Pulaski Hwy. & Frazer Rd.
Pulaski Hwy. & Bear-Christiana Rd.
Bear-Corbit & Red Lion Rds.
DuPont Hwy. & Bear-Tybouts Rd.
DuPont Hwy. & Llangollen Blvd.
DuPont & Pulaski Hwys.
DuPont Hwy. & Christiana Rd.

Airport & Churchmans Rds. Airport Rd. & Commons Blvd.
Basin Rd. & Commons Blvd.
Summit Bridge & Bethel Church Rds.
Chapel St. & Cleveland Ave.
Christiana & Chapman Rds.
Wrangle Hill & Red Lion Rds.
Concord Pike & Interstate 95 exit merge
Alapocas Drive & East Gate Road
Montchanin & Buck Roads
Concord Pike & Augustine Cut-off
Concord Pike & Fairfax Shopping Center south entrance
Concord Pike & Fairfax Blvd.
Library & Delaware Aves.
Augustine Cut-off & 18th St.

Highway segments

S. College Ave. betw. Main St. & Old Baltimore Pike
Cleveland Ave. betw.Chapel St. and Capitol Trail and Library Ave.and Chapel St. betw. Main St. and Pulaski Hwy.
Summit Bridge Rd. betw. Bethel Church  and Warwick Rds.
Limestone Rd. betw. the Pennsylvania border and Paper Mill Rd. and Paper Mill Rd. betw. Limestone Rd. and Cleveland Ave.
Christiana Rd. betw. Stanton-Ogletown and Appleby Rds.
Lancaster Ave. and Pike betw. Interstate 95 and Yorklyn Rd.

Limestone Rd. betw. Kirkwood Hwy. and Newport Pike and Stanton-Ogletown Rd. betw. Limestone and Christiana Rds.
Interstate 95 betw. Concord Pike and Christiana Rd.
DuPont Hwy. betw. Basin Red Lion Rds.
Centre, Barley Mill and Powder Mill Rds. betw. Kirkwood Hwy. and Concord Pike
Concord Pike and Ave. betw. Fairfax Blvd. and Market St. and Market, King and Walnut Sts. betw. Concord Ave. and Martin Luther King Blvd.
New London Rd. betw. Fremont Drive and Main St. and Elkton Rd. betw. Main St. and Chestnut Hill Rd. and Chestnut Hill Rd. betw. Elkton Rd. and S. College Ave.
Kirkwood Hwy. betw. Prices Corner and Newark

 that the report and its recommendations are intended to be "information and a resource [for] agencies that have to go out and address the problem." More specifically, he said in the interview that the planning council will advocate the various recommended steps in its dealings with Delaware Department of Transportation and New Castle County Department of Land Use.

The council's study was in response to a mandate in the federal Transportation Equity Act that states develop and implement a congestion management system for every urban area with a population of more than 200,000 as part of their metropolitan area planning process. The local council has jurisdiction in New Castle County and adjacent Cecil County, Md.

Saladino said that all the intersections and highway segments in the report are in New Castle because that is where data on which to base the study was available. The Maryland County will be included next year in the first of what are intended to be annual updates.

As it happened, the study came as New Castle County Council was involved in a traffic-congestion study of its own. Councilwoman Karen Venezky said her small business committee was concerned with addressing intersection congestion in light of its impact on smaller development projects. Acting alone, small firms cannot remedy so called 'failing' intersections but they adversely affect those firms' plans to expand facilities.

With reference to the congested highway segments, the report noted that there are planning studies underway or actual projects scheduled that are expected to deal, at least partly, with congestion.

Beyond that, she said, "people feel their quality of life has been compromised by the volume of traffic."

Therein, of course, lies something of a delemma since traffic congestion is largely in the mind of the beholder. "It's very subjective. Congestion in Delaware isn't anything like what you would find in other places," Ralph Reeb, who represented Delaware Department of Transportation at the meeting, noted.

The planning council approach was to blend highway planners' level-of-service classification system with a measure based on the average vehcile speed as a percentage of the posted speed limit. The former grades intersections 'A' to 'F' depending how long it takes to get through them at a given time of day, but like the comparable academic grade, an 'F'-for-failure could be only a few seconds away from passing or several minutes.

Saladino explained that measuring conditions along a highway segment by average speed rather than time is valid becuase "we assume that congestion is the reason they're not driving at or above the speed limit."

In the report, the council's lists of congested intersections and highway segments overlapped. The segments all incuded two or more of the intersections.

The planning council also reduced the County Council committee's list of 59 bad intersectins to 32 to reflect improvements recently made or in process. But it added 10 to the list on the basis of more recent traffic studies. Also dropped was the committee's ranking of the severity of the problems at each of the crossings, but that information was included as an appendix to the report.

2001. All rights reserved.

Get more information about this topic

Read the Congestion Management System report
Get a national perspective from the Texas Transportation Institute
Go to Wilmington Area Planning Council's Web site





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