recommendations are non-binding in the sense that Secretary of
Transportation Nathan Hayward and eventually Governor Ruth Ann
Minner will make the final decision and can accept, modify or
reject any or all of them. But having spent nearly a year and
approximately $650,000 on the advisory process DelDOT expects
the committee's 14-page report to end up as the major component
of a conceptual blueprint for the project, which has been the
nub of public controversy for several years.
previously decided and reported by Delaforum, key points in the
report call for:
bridge, to bring the Brandywine crossing to four lanes and
eliminate a rush hour traffic bottleneck in front of the Du Pont
Experimental Station by making all of Delaware Route 141,
between just outside New Castle and Brandywine Hundred, at least
somewhat the intersection of Barley Mill and Montchanin Roads,
but not constructing an interchange there nor significantly
Establishing a first-of-its-kind 'oversight group' to determine
when the expected increase in traffic volume warrants actually
building the new bridge.
Attempting to divert a significant amount of highway users to
public transit by establishing four new Delaware Transit bus
routes to give commuters living east and south of the sites an
option for reaching their jobs, primarily at Du Pont, Astra
Zeneca and the Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children.
The vote of the 38-member advisory
committee was 30 in favor, including three who voted by signed
proxy; one abstention; and seven absent. Gail Van Gilder, of
Delaware Greenways, said she did not vote because she wanted to
seek the opinion of her board of directors but indicated that
she was supportive of the report. Under committee groundrules, a
75% majority vote was required for approval of any motion,
including the final decision.
In declaring the issue resolved,
Robert Kramer, of Rummel, Klepper &
Kahl, the consulting engineering firm out of Baltimore that
DelDOT has hired for the project, told the committee that other
interested parties and individuals "are still free to make
their views known," but that, in the advisory process, "you
forced us to come up with a plan that is much better than we
would have [without it]."
the committee now stands adjourned sine die, Kramer noted
that "all this is just a paper report which requires your
continued support" if it is to become reality. Committee members
will be kept informed as the approval, design and construction
processes proceed, he said.
be officially heard from under Federal Highway Administration
road-building guidelines is a 'Section 106' committee, which has
been viewing the project from the esthetic, environmental and
historic preservation points of view. Kramer's colleague,
William Hellmann, told the advisory committee that the state
Historic Preservation Office still favors not building another
bridge or, if one is built, that it be only one lane wide,
bringing the crossing to three lanes.
key point in its position, he said, is that it wants the
'trigger' for construction to "provide enough time for
multi-modal efforts (primary increased transit service) to be in
place and to reach their full potential before providing
additional [bridge] capacity."
106' refers to the section of the federal Historic Preservation
Act which authorizes that panel. Unlike the advisory committee,
its meetings have been unannounced and conducted out of public
view. It was not made clear how much weight its recommendations
will have in the Hayward-Minner decision, which could come as
soon as the end of summer.
the advisory committee's report still has a large gap. The
committee has been unable to resolve the issue of whether there
should be a protected path for bicyclists and pedestrians on the
bridge. Hellmann said, "We don't have enough information [yet]
to make that decision." The consulting firm is to study the
matter and poll committee members on a draft insertion to the
report covering it.
Valihura, president of Delaware Greenways, in a letter to
Hayward withdrew a suggestion that an alternate path be
constructed to link the Alapocas Greenway and Barley Mill Road
or Kennett Pike by mostly following the abandoned Kentmere
Branch railroad right-of-way. That alternative had been
suggested by Van Gilder on behalf of Greenways but Valihura said
further consideration led to the conclusion that it would not
serve commuters in the way that a bicycle-pedestrian path on the
advisory committee at a previous meeting was unable to muster
the necessary majority to either approve or reject a path on the
bridge. The recommendations, however, include providing roadway
shoulders that would supposedly be wide enough for cyclists or
walkers. A few -- very few -- of them now use the present span.
Gilder said Greenways will "still pursue" the railroad route
proposal apart from the Tyler McConnell project. Valihura also
is a state representative. A greenway on a similar abandoned
right-of-way in Brandywine Park has just been completed and
another is contemplated along another one between the Christina
Riverfront in Wilmington and New Castle.
McEvilly, a Greenways board member, brought to the advisory
panel meeting a set of photographs of bicycle-pedestrian paths
constructed on separate supports underneath bridges in San
Antonio, Tex., and Richmond, Va., and said that would work with
Tyler McConnell. During the meeting, however, Beverly Baxter, of
the Committee of 100, a business development organization, said
that commuters who ride bicycles would be unlikely to navigate
the steep slopes that would be necessary to access the separate
span in lieu of simply riding across the highway bridge.
hangup is how to continue the path along the steep Powder Mill
Road slope bordering the Experimental Station. Hellmann said it
would require separation walls on either side. Michael Hewitt,
Du Pont's representative on the advisory committee, objected to
that on the grounds it would be unsafe and that "someone will
get hurt [coming down the slope] and most likely it will be a Du
agreed that the Rummel, Klepper & Kahl would look into the pros
and cons of a path "on, under or near" the McConnell span.
last-minute proposal made it into the recommendations without
difficulty. That calls for erecting a six-foot-high stone wall
between Barley Mill Road and Old Barley Mill Road to screen
residences there and provide a more formal approach to Hagley
Museum. The committee approved that insertion unanimously.
guess now is that the second bridge will be needed and built
around 2005 or 2006. It most likely will be within a few feet
south, or downstream, of the present one and look pretty much
like it except that it will be supported by five, rather than 11
previously was estimated that the parallel bridge will cost
$11.3 million. Providing a separate bicycle-pedestrian path on
it would add about $3.7 million to the cost.
Design work would begin soon after
the final decision. The recommended 'oversight group' would
advise the transportation secretary and governor when the new
bridge would be needed, based on semi-annual monitoring of
traffic at the site and on roads within a wide radius.