William Hellmann's mission at the
May 7 meeting of the Delaware Department of Transportation
advisory group for the bridge project was to reduce a list of
options for the bridge and its environs to manageable
proportions before going to a workshop-style public hearing on
June 4. Gail Van Gilder, of Delaware Greenways, opened fire when
he got to a proposal which would, in effect, substitute a wide
intersection at Barley Mill and Montchanin Roads for a
controversial highway interchange at the location.
argued that, no matter whether you called them through lanes,
turning lanes or passing lanes, three going westbound on Barley
Mill and two coming eastbound would add up to five. That would
one more than the number a similar group involved with the
widening of Powder Mill Road in the vicinity of Rockland Road
got DelDOT down to a few years ago and one more than what the
agency has committed to for the McConnell crossing.
in the session, Charles Baker, director of the New Castle County
Department of Land Use, told the meeting that he and his
department did not foresee any significant commercial
development in the so-called Delaware Route 141 corridor beyond
the projects already approved. Moreover, he said, it appears
that timing for that extensive amount of construction is
considerable discussion, Hellmann and Robert Kramer acknowledged
that, if the consultant's recommendations are taken, no proposed
scenario for the intersection would call for having the road
just four lanes wide. Van Gilder's contention that would be
incompatible with the premise that Route 141 be a 'boulevard'
between Prices Corner and Concord Pike was supported by Berta
Kerr, of the Westover Woods Civic Association.
recommended that previously discussed plans to build a complete
interchange or to separate the intersecting roads while
providing varying amounts of access be dropped from
consideration. He did suggest that a new option calling for "a
tight diamond interchange" be kept for further study. Only
briefly explained at the meeting, that proposal calls for
dropping narrow ramps down from an elevated Montchanin Road.
Ferry, of the Alfred I. du Pont Institute, argued for retaining
an option that would use a partial cloverleaf-style ramp for
egress from Montchanin Road.
Councilman Richard Abbott, who has been a strong advocate of
concentrating highway improvements at the intersection in lieu
of enlarging McConnell Bridge, did not participate in the
discussion except to suggest that the assumption Montchanin Road
would have to be elevated because of construction considerations
be revisited. Lowering Barley Mill Road to go under it, he said,
would eliminate aesthetic objections to a grade-separated
Hellmann's suggestion that building a traffic circle at the
intersection is not a viable option was endorsed by the advisory
group as were suggestions that a variety of public
transit options to carry commuters from New Castle, Newark and
the Prices Corner areas to their jobs east of the Brandywine be
given further study.
called for making a 'strong recommendation' that Wilmington Area
Planning Council include proposals for light-rail or monorail
service in a wider region that would include the McConnell
Bridge area in its the transportation plan for now-through-2030
that it is developing, but agreed that was not practical as a
more immediate option.
said that a rail line only one or two miles long would not be
economically sound. Ted Matley, executive director of the
planning council, said that a monorail system of the kind that
has been advocated by state Representative David Ennis is
"nothing but a long-term vision." Matley said it would take at
least 15 years to design and build and called that estimate
Kramer attempted to keep discussion of Hellmann's proposals to
dealing with whether the options should be dropped or retained
for the hearing rather than addressing the merits of the
options, the session reached its four-hour limit and dissolved
before Hellmann got to the set of options dealing with the
to the outline in a summary document distributed at the
meeting, he would have recommended dropping proposals to replace
the existing bridge with a new structure, doubledecking it,
charging a toll for its use or restricting traffic to one
direction during rush hours. That would leave as options still
under consideration building a one- or two-lane bridge just
south of the existing span or widening the present bridge to
three, from two, lanes by encasing its piers to form wider ones
or supporting the expansion on a second set of narrower piers.
said before Hellmann's presentation that an option to do nothing
with the bridge or along its approaches also remains as a
told the committee that it will be expected at its May 23 meeting
to decide which options to present to the public hearing and
which ones to drop "no matter how long we have to stay [in
session]." Following the hearing, the committee is to come up
with recommendations for presentation to Secretary of
Transportation Nathan Hayward and Governor Ruth Ann Minner for a
final decision by June 30.
told the meeting that the county appears to be "entering a phase
where we're looking at slow steady growth" at a rate of about 1%
a year. He said that Du Pont Co. and Astra Zeneca building
projects appear to be moving "a little slower than what they had
expected." A year ago, both companies were pressing for quick
approval of their project plans because of what they then
claimed was a tight timetable. Du Pont has since decided to sell
the pharmaceuticals business for which the initial phase of its
Experimental Station expansion was intended.
that is not particularly disturbing, but that it could extend the
time when public infrastructure improvements, such as those
contemplated for the McConnell Bridge, will be needed. "What we
thought would be [required in] eight years may now be 15," he
county is neither interested in influencing nor able to control
the pace of development, he added. "It's their business --
something that will be determined by the market."
Major projects approved in the Route
141 corridor are: Astra Zeneca, 2 million square feet; Du Pont's
Chestnut Run plant, 957,000 square feet; Du Pont Experimental
Station, 823,000 square feet; Aglient Technology, 280,000 square
feet and M.B.N.A. Bank, 35,000 square feet.