running out of time for meetings," Eugene Crittendon, of the
Westover Hills Civic Association, declared. "There are those of
us who have the feeling we've been given more [information] than
we can absorb. We can certainly vote in two weeks."
are those of us who would like to see this process come to an
end," New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner said.
Wicks, DelDOT's assistant chief engineer, said there is no
deadline for the committee to come up with its recommendations
although June 30 earlier was presented as a 'target' date. The
ultimate decision rests with Secretary of Transportation Nathan
Hayward and Governor Ruth Ann Minner. The advisory committee has
a meeting scheduled for June 18 and a tentative date of June 25
for an additional one.
Denno, of Delaware Nature Society, called for scheduling yet
another session, specifically to cover in detail an
environmental assessment report. She said that she could not
vote on a bridge alternative without understanding its impact.
"An environmental assessment is an important document. It should
not be separated out of the [decision-making] process," said
Joan Hazelton, of Preservation Delaware Inc.
said later that, while she was "concerned and disappointed about
the order of the meetings -- specifically the fact that the
environmental assessment is slated to be last on the list of
topics and thus of questionable use in helping evaluate the
alternatives -- I did not request yet another meeting."
love to know how much is being paid for all these books with
everything anybody ever said, thought about or dreamed about,"
said Terry Riley, of M.B.N.A. America Bank. "This is the group
that is charged with making a decision so we should make a
decision." Her reference was to the large loose-leaf binders in
which committee members have been inserting a voluminous amount
of paper distributed at each meeting. The June 11 session was
the 13th in the series.
the papers handed out at the session was a summary of comments
taken at a workshop-style public hearing on June 4. Although the
data was not tabulated, there appeared to be some conclusive
preferences among the 86 attenders who gave comments. Those
included opposition to doing nothing -- an option officially
still open -- support for building a parallel two-lane span in
preference to a one-lane span, rejection of an interchange to
replace the intersection of Barley Mill and Montchanin Roads,
and opposition to building a ramp from the bridge's eastbound
approach to Hagley Museum.
Crittendon's remarks and ensuing discussion came after the
committee made its first official decisions, which had to do
with some 'short-term' recommendations.
decided to endorse a plan to have Delaware Transit Corp.
establish four commuter bus routes serving the Du Pont
Experimental Station, Astra Zeneca corporate headquarters and
the Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children. The transit agency,
a unit of Delaware Department of Transportation, already has
committed to one of the routes, from Christiana Mall. The others
would link the employment centers with New Castle, Newark and
also disposed of some other non-controversial 'short-term'
recommendations, but was diverted from dealing with which of
four possible scenarios involving widening of Barley Mill Road
by DelDOT consultants who recommended that decision be made in
conjunction with 'mid- to long-term' recommendations having to
do with the bridge itself and the Barley Mill-Montchanin Road
the group got into a long discussion about how to 'trigger'
whatever permanent improvements are decided upon. Specifically,
the debate involved the consultants' recommendation that
planning for a new bridge begin soon, but that actual building
of one not commence until annual monitoring finds that eastbound
traffic during the morning rush hour is backed up past
Montchanin Road for a period of at least 30 minutes on three of
the five workdays. Planning and building will each take about
intersection would not be improved until the same condition,
with the backup extending to Rising Sun Lane in front of the Du
Pont Experimental Station, comes about with afternoon westbound
appeared about evenly split over whether timing how long a queue
lasts or how long it takes to get from the end of the queue to
its head was the better measure.
a line but it keeps moving and it only takes seven minutes to
get through," said Joseph Finch, who represents St.
Joseph-on-the-Brandywine Church on the committee. "When you look
at Houston or other places in the country we don't have a
problem at all."
'trigger' idea was presented as a way to satisfy those who
believe nothing should be done about the controversial crossing
until perceived traffic congestion can be demonstrated to be
real. "We tried to create a 'trigger' where everybody would
[agree] we have a problem before anything was done," consultant
William Hellmann, of Rummel, Klepper & Kahl, the consulting
engineering firm out of Baltimore that DelDOT has hired for the
recommended backups, he said, would bring conditions back to
what they were last November before new morning traffic
restrictions involving the Experimental Station intersection
were imposed. He said he thought that would occur in 2005 or
2006. Several meeting attenders pointed out that waiting for the
recommended 'triggers' would require commuters to put up with
the problem for two additional years while the bridge were
attender facetiously asked what would happen if an annual review
found the traffic lines lasting only 27 minutes. By the time the
group reconvened the following year, they would be lasting 34
minutes and 27 seconds.
being short-sighted if we say we're going to wait till things
get really bad before we begin to solve the problem," said
Beverly Baxter, of the Committee of 100, a business community
organization. She said that would be hurtful to companies like
Du Pont and Astra Zeneca "which are an essential part of the
economy of New Castle County."
understand a comfort factor for people who don't want to build,"
said Arnie Caine, of Astra Zeneca. "What is not acceptable is to
wait until we have a big problem." Doing so, he added, would
impede recruiting employees and bringing them into the area.
Weiner pointed out that the advisory committee, which has
company representation, has no member who commuters to one of
the affected job locations.
During the discussion, Crittendon
quietly got up and left the Hagley Soda House, where the meeting
was being held.