consultant Bob Kramer agreed at a public hearing on Mar. 1 that
the issue of what to do about the bridge has evolved to a large
extent into a east-versus-west competition with a majority of those
speaking for the east of the span over the Brandywine opposing any
significant changes in the status quo and those on the other
side supporting expansion of the crossing.
he thought that about one in five of the nearly 200 people who turned out
for the workshop-style airing of views "think it (the
ultimate decision) is a done deal," but the other four were
there in the belief their views would count in the final
determination. "That is a very unscientific analysis"
of public opinion, he added.
Council, however, left no uncertainty about its stance.
a four-lane bridge, with any reasonable alternative modal
features, and build it now. Past inaction has shown the folly of
waiting too long," the umbrella civic organization, which
claims an affiliation of more than 125 community associations,
said in a public-position resolution enacted by its executive
Castle County residents are needlessly inconvenienced by the
bottleneck created on [Delaware Route] 141. Completing
this roadway will benefit all and, once accomplished, the
naysayers will surely be grateful for the improvement."
Care 141 and the Committee of 100 had at each other.
statement, the former accused the latter of deliberately misrepresenting
its view concerning a compromise approach which would combine a
somewhat expanded bridge -- from two to three lanes -- with
special provision for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and, possibly,
an innovative public transit system using a monorail.
previously reported by Delaforum, state Representative David
Ennis advocated that approach at the most recent meeting of the
advisory committee, of which he is not a member. His monorail
idea was topic of one of several
large panels on display at the hearing. In a Delaforum
interview, Ennis had accused DelDOT and its consultants of not
giving serious attention to it.
"Care 141 supports DelDOT's recommendations that multiple solutions,
including various forms of transit, are needed to solve
congestion along the [Route 141] corridor in the long term. ...
Care 141 believes that all the objectives can be met, without
delay, while still maintaining the community and historic character
of the area as well as meeting the needs of commuters, Astra
Zeneca, Du Pont and other Route 141 businesses," that
organization's statement said.
Baxter, executive director of the Committee of 100, said the
Care 141 people didn't read the item in the her committee's
newsletter which raised the hackles very carefully. Care 141 was
not mentioned. She said the reference to an "outspoken
contingent within the Greenville community which does not want
any expansion of the bridge" was directed toward County
Councilman Richard Abbott and those on the DelDOT advisory group
who agree with his positiom. She did not identify the other
people. Gail Van Gilder distributed a small number of copies of
the Care 141 statement at the hearing.
whose Third Council District includes Greenville, has advocated
improvements to the intersection of Barley Mill and Montchanin
Roads and other 'interim measures' to relieve congestion
pressure on the bridge before undertaking expansion that he
claims would only invite heavier traffic volume.
describes itself as "a coalition of communities from
Carillon Crossing to Woodland Heights, institutions, nonprofits
and organizations including the Kennett Pike Association." The
Committee of 100 is a trade organization representing developers
and related and business interest.
now, political, civic and business persons seem to have been able
to hold emotions in check and to abide by DelDOT-imposed rules of conduct --
not unlike those articulated on the opening day of elementary
school -- while participating since last September as members
of an advisory group in extended discussions proceeding in
carefully measured steps toward consideration of specific
options for the bridge.
those options which were the topic of the Mar. 1 hearing.
Attenders were asked to fill out survey forms expressing
preferences and other views.
Hellman, also a DelDOT consultant, said the only idea not
previously on the table that he had picked up at the session was
to suspend a walkway for pedestrians and cyclists below the
roadway. Whether or not that would involve a new wider roadway
or the present two-lane one was not certain.
Wicks, DelDOT's assistant chief engineer and director of the
McConnell Bridge project, said all the public comments will be
transcribed and presented to the advisory committee at its next
meeting, on Mar. 26. The timetable presumably still in force
calls for the group to come up with recommendations in May.
beginning, DelDOT has been accused of using the advisory
committee and public hearing mechanism as a way to delay coming
to grips with the controversial and highly emotional
issue. It was said that former Governor Thomas Carper did not
want it boiling while he was seeking election to the U.S.
said turnout for the hearing was
"on the high side" for such an event. "We're
getting good comments. People seem happy with the clarity of
information we've provided, but we won't know if we've gotten
any more [alternative proposals] until we've had a chance to
digest the ideas," she said.
Brandywine Council statement noted the need for highway links
between Brandywine Hundred and the rest of New Castle County and
said that "the failure of [Route] 141 and growth of local
traffic [have] already irretrievably and negatively impacted the
to relieve congestion on arterial Route 141 ultimately will give
rise to calls for expanding capacity of the already impacted
"narrow winding rural roads of the Valley," the
statement predicts. "Obviously, it would be desirable to
keep the traffic on the main roads and preserve these rural
roads for as long as possible," it said.
of the Brandywine Council statement appears to indicate
agreement among members of the organization's executive
committee on its contents. Although the council advocates open
government, it usually sets policy out of the
public view at closed-door meeting of its executive committee so
there is no way to accurately gauge member sentiment or the
degree of individual support a resolution has. As a private
organization, the council, although dealing with public matters,
is not covered by the state's open meeting law.
141 statement said the Committee of
100 newsletter inaccurately portrayed its
position as favoring "expansion of pedestrian, bicycle, bus
and train commuting to the exclusion of the bridge." On the
contrary, Care 141 said, it "recognizes that the ultimate
solution ... will most likely be the expansion of the crossing
of the Brandywine."
Committee of 100 seems to have already concluded that the only
solution is an expanded bridge -- to be built now ... regardless
of any other options that might be viable," the Care 141
statement said. "One way to accomplish their goal is to
paint any other options or conclusions as the product of a
disgruntled core group of residents against everything,
including Du Pont and Astra Zeneca."
Committee of 100 article criticized those on the DelDOT advisory
committee who have sought an environmental impact study. It said
that would delay bridge expansion by as much as two years. That
and other moves, it claimed, amount to "raising one issue
after another in an attempt to stall the project if they can't
stop it until something -- perhaps a slowing economy that cuts
transportation [financing] -- causes it to be sidetracked."