Emphasizing that the option being put forth by an community
advisory committee is only a planning-phase consideration at
this point, project manager Darren O'Neill said it would provide
the greatest amount of elbow room for the contractor who will be
rebuilding that part of the road.
be the final phase of a three-stage project which currently
involves work on I-95's south Wilmington viaduct. That work is
being done mostly at night and involves minimal disruption of
traffic. The third section will deal with the highway between
the viaduct and Concord Pike.
stretch between Concord Pike and the Pennsylvania state line was
being rebuilt in 2000, the southbound side was closed for three
months to allow work to proceed apace. When that was finished,
the northbound side took its turn with a three-month closure.
Extensive pre-construction publicity and, highway officials say,
a near-ideal level of public cooperation during construction
resulted in a minimum of traffic problems. The state received
national recognition in transportation circles for what was
deemed an innovate approach to a major project on a heavily
being able to pull that off successfully, everyone agreed, was
the fact that through traffic headed to Pennsylvania or Maryland
was diverted to Interstate 495, the bypass leg of the Interstate
system along the banks of the Delaware River. That would happen
again if the same plan is followed next time, O'Neill said.
diversion at the 95-495 splits north and south of the city also
would occur if the other two pending options are adopted, he
said. They are to switch traffic to one lane in each direction
on one side of the road while the other side is being worked on;
or to maintain two lanes in both directions by using the
shoulders while the contractor works on small widths of the
roadway. "Either way, the road will have less [traffic]
capacity," he said.
"It proves I was right. DelDOT is
admitting I was right," said New Castle County Councilman Robert
Weiner when he learned of the possibility of the diversion.
has long advocated a permanent swapping of the designations of
I-95 and I-495. He said anything short of that would not do the
job of keeping the road through the more heavily populated part
of Brandywine Hundred and the city for use by people with mostly
local destinations while allowing those who have no intention of
stopping here to be on their way.
[from outside the area] put blind faith in following I-95," he
major civic and business group has backed my idea. The only
reason DelDOT won't do it is because one man -- Henry Topel --
opposes it," Weiner added.
called Weiner's remark "a fraudulent comment." He said the
councilman "has repeated that lie for years."
acknowledging that he does oppose a designation swap, Topel, who
owns the Best Western Brandywine Valley Inn on Concord Pike,
said that his position mirrors that of the local hotel and
restaurant association. "It's not just me; it's an entire
industry that provides thousands of Delaware jobs."
that Wilmington Mayor James Baker, when he was president of City
Council, supported and later signed a resolution declaring the
city's opposition to any name change. New Castle County took the
opposite position in a resolution it enacted.
-- who said that current highway terminology shies away from the
term 'detour' in favor of using 'diversion' to highway routes
that retain their numerical designations -- declined comment on
Michelle Ackles, of DelDOT's external affairs
department, said the agency did not oppose switching
designations, but did not do so because "there is no clear
consensus in the community" on the issue and there are possible federal ramifications.
federal government has difficulty with that sort of proposal.
It's not as simple [to do] as it sounds," she said.
took umbrage at not being invited by DelDOT to participate on
the advisory committee which came up with the options and not
being invited to attend the 'legislative luncheon' on June 11 at
which they were presented. "I'm an elected official and my
district is affected," he said.
O'Neill said that the luncheon was
for city officials and that state and county officials would be
kept informed about the project in appropriate settings.