March 9, 2001

Membership of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred reiterated the groupís call to expand the Tyler McConnell Bridge to at least four lanes while adding a proviso that pathways for pedestrians and bicyclists be included.

"The intent of the vote is to encourage DelDOT not to study it to death," said zoning chairman Phil Lavelle before representatives of area civic associations agreed 38-2 at a meeting on Mar. 8 to take a stand on the issue. The action presumably adds weight to a more detailed resolution previously adopted by the council's executive committee which Lavelle conveyed to the transportation agency at a public hearing on Mar. 1.

Although Lavelle told the meeting that he did not want to "overcomplicate things [by dealing with other than] the traffic capacity of the bridge," several council members argued that a preference for more than a motor vehicle crossing should be stated. After Joseph Mitchell, the council's long-time resident expert on transportation, and state Representative Catherine Cloutier  joined the chorus, president Daniel Bockover agreed to change the wording of the statement accordingly.

The council allows each of its more than 100 civic association members two voting representatives. It was not stated how many of the votes, cast by waving index cards, were pairs or singles.

While the statement specified that the expanded bridge should, "as a minimum," match the four lanes of the rest of state Route 141, which it carries over the Brandywine, Lavelle assured the group that "no one is advocating expanding beyond four lanes."

He said a quick Delaware Department of Transportation decision on what to do about the bridge is important because it will take time to design and construct a span and it is needed to accommodate  planned expansions of the Astra Zeneca headquarters complex and the Du Pont Co. Experimental Station. He also warned that failure to act will only increase the volume of traffic on Montchanin and Thompsons Bridge Roads through the Brandywine Valley and lead to pressure to put up traffic signals and eventually improve that route.

Bockover said Brandywine Council should stand counter to "a powerful group that doesn't want you to have more than a two-lane bridge [although] you have a four-lane highway leading to it from both ends." He added that "the only way to put four lanes [of traffic] across that [present] bridge is to double the speed."

The only vocal dissenter to the recommended position was a man who did not identify himself but said that he is "almost never caught in traffic" at the bridge, adding that "two lanes is what is keeping [Route 141] from becoming a freeway."

In another matter, the council voted -- that time, 24-4 -- to support placing an all-weather footpath along Grubb Road between Naamans Road and Majestic Drive pending a decision about what improvements should be made to the road. Lavelle said both plans that DelDOT presented to a recent hearing amounted to "overkill." One idea would be to widen the road to include bicycle lanes and to build conventional sidewalks on both sides; the other would be to construct a wide combination pedestrian and bicycle path on one side.

Bockover said DelDOT "could bring in a few truckloads of asphalt right now" and provide for other than motor vehicles to use the narrow road. There already is a paved path between Majestic Drive and Foulk Road.

In yet another action, the group endorsed a plan by the Brandywine Masonic Lodge to put an addition on its hall at 2016 Foulk Road, subject to approval of that project by the North Graylyn Crest Civic Association. That will require a change in deed restrictions.

© 2001. All rights reserved.

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