have no effect on the number of cars, but it will make them
behave better," Joseph Cantalupo,
DelDOT's assistant director of statewide and regional planning, told a meeting of the Claymont Business Owners
Presently, a daily average of 16,600 vehicles use the pike south
of its intersection with Governor Printz Boulevard and 18,100
north of there. Those volumes are projected to increase by up to
20%, depending on the success of the Claymont Renaissance
redevelopment effort which is intended, among other things, to
attract visitors and shoppers to the area, between now and 2025.
The plan projects an
increase in 'normal' travel time between the Interstate 495
interchange and Rolling Road from three and a quarter to minutes
to between three and three quarters and four and a half minutes.
That would seem to indicate a reduction in average speed from
46 m.p.h. to between 33 m.p.h. and 40 m.p.h. The present speed
limit in most of the course is 35 m.p.h.
Cantalupo said the plan at this stage
is intended as a conceptual one, but indicated it stands a much
better than even chance of becoming reality. It "has a lot of
steam behind it," he said. "We wouldn't have put in all this
work if it was just going to sit around."
State Representative Greg Lavelle,
whose district includes part of Claymont, pledged support for
giving the projected priority and noted that Representative
Wayne Smith and Senator Harris McDowell, who have Claymonters
among their constituents, "have a lot more influence" as
majority leaders in their respective chambers of the General
The plan was developed over a period
of more than 18 months, having started out as a proposed
safety-improvement project and evolved into a key component of
the Renaissance effort. It still is subject to "some tweaking"
by the community advisory committee that has been working on it
and in response to comments gathered at a soon-to-be-scheduled
workshop-style public hearing. The business owners offered some
suggestions for minor modifications which Cantalupo said will be
decision to go with a four-lane plan instead of narrowing the
roadway, as some residents have proposed, was made because
volume will soon "bump up against what two lanes can handle,"
between those alternatives, he indicated, was the most difficult
step in reaching for consensus. "We knew we couldn't satisfy
everybody, [but] we think this is the best plan based on
everyone's different concerns," he said. "We've listened to the
community [and] we've received a lot of community support."
The presentation at the business
association's meeting on Jan. 23 was the first detailed public
showing of the plan.
As explained by DelDOT planning
consultant Christine Wells, it calls for the highway lanes to be
narrowed slightly from 12 feet to 11 feet while the highway
right-of-way is widened in most places from its present 80 feet
to 86 feet and eight inches to accommodate bicycle paths and
sidewalks on both sides. Wider rights-of-way, up to 97 feet,
will be required to put in extra turn lanes at 15 intersections,
a limited amount of on-road parking and broader sidewalks in the
initially proposed Renaissance area between Seminole Avenue and
That means DelDOT will have to take
at least parts of several properties. If it does, the agency
will be required to pay owners the fair market value of what is
While the median is to be the pike's
main feature, Wells said the plan calls for a general esthetic
improvement and specific measures to address identified problems
along the course. The exit ramp from southbound Interstate 495,
for instance, is to be redesigned to form a 'T' with the pike to
eliminate the current practice of many drivers to ignore the
stop sign on the ramp's less severe meeting with the pike's
southbound lanes. Clearly defined pedestrian crosswalks will be
provided at major intersections with traffic signals.
No public street will be blocked
although the median will block some left turns, she said. Left
turns will be provided for by breaks in the median at such
places as the Church of the Ascension and Archmere Academy.
There is provision for only 11
on-road parking spaces. Officials at the Holy Rosary
church and school complex, which presently is a heavy user of
such parking, specifically requested that spaces not be provided
there because of safety considerations.
Recessing the median to pavement
level in front of the Claymont Fire Company station and
providing emergency-use traffic signals there has answered
concerns about easy access to the pike in both directions for
fire equipment and ambulances.
She said present use of public
transportation does not justify installing shelters and making
other improvements except to the stop at the Darley Road
intersection which is one of the most heavily used stop north of
Wilmington. Because the pike will have no shoulders, buses are
expected to use the bicycle path and part of the adjoining
travel lane to make stops.
Questioned about the possible effect
of the state's budget crisis, Cantalupo said the plan does not
have to be implemented as a single project. It can be divided
into smaller packages either by geographical segments or by
components. Also, he said, such things as revamping the I-495
intersection and dealing with safety concerns in the school zone
at Maple Avenue can be justified as separate high-priority
He said it would
take about two years after financing is approved to design and
engineer the complete project. Actual construction could begin
as soon as three years from now or could be as long as six to
eight years into the future.