"We think that is the right thing to
do," he told Delaforum.
He also said in a telephone interview
on Oct. 23 that traffic volume on Delaware 141 has reached a
point where it justifies proceeding to final design work next
year with the beginning of construction as soon as early 2005.
Ten months ago, Hayward, with the
support of Governor Ruth Ann Minner, reversed a previous
decision to accept an advisory group's recommendation to expand
capacity of the Brandywine crossing by erecting a two-lane span
next to the existing one.
That seemed to settle the matter,
until Delaforum discovered and reported that ultimate design for
the most-talked-about highway project in Delaware history is
still being talked about.
A panel of 25 individuals and
representatives of affected businesses and organizations,
referred to collectively as 'stakeholders' and officially as
'Section 106 Parties', convened for the 18th time on Oct. 20 to
discuss five options for the bridge, with four alternatives for
one of them, and two options to accommodate walkers and
bicyclists. 'Section 106' refers to the section
of the federal law governing public projects which requires that
environmental, historical and cultural consequences receive full
consideration before Uncle Sam signs off helping to pay for the
The Federal Highway Administration,
which controls spending of federal money for highway projects,
evidently is objecting to Hayward's idea on the grounds that the
existing bridge is eligible to be included on the National
Register as an historic structure and therefore should not be
Back in January, Hayward said that
building a bridge supported by arches, rather than piers, is
essential to the visual integrity of Hagley Museum and the
rest of the Henry Clay valley. That, he said then, took priority
over preserving a bridge which he considers to have questionable
historic credentials. As Delaforum previously reported,
he later acknowledged that objection to a parallel bridge by Hagley officials
was a key reason for his rejecting the proposal..
It is still not clear, however, why
the 'Section 106' process is continuing.
Cutting off that consultation would
be "something like the way [government agencies] use the power
of condemnation," Hayward said in the interview. "It's a last
resort that I hate to use unless I really have to." DelDOT has
used that power only once during his administration of the
department -- to acquire property in the Hockessin area in
connection with the widening of Limestone Road.
"We believe it is possible that [the
'Section 106' panel] might be able to reach a consensus," he
The cabinet secretary acknowledged
that the consensus being sought, and the only one he is likely
to accept, would not go much beyond modifying his vision for a
four-lane bridge. Nevertheless, he said, DelDOT employs
consultation with affected parties on numerous projects and he
does not want to send a signal that cutting it short in the case
of the McConnell bridge represents a change in the policy of
listening to the public and being guided by its views.
After the 'Section 106' meeting, Bill Hillmann, Delaware Department of Transportation's lead
consultant on the project, told Delaforum that it was necessary
to complete the public participation process against the
possibility, no matter how remote, of federal support. "We have to go through the process
under federal requirements," said DelDOT project director Marc
response to a Delaforum inquiry, DelDOT spokesman Mike Williams said:
"The department position
is that the department has a preferred alternative and that is
to build a new four-lane bridge that is context sensitive to the
valley. We are proceeding with trying to get federal dollars
approved for the construction of the preferred alternative
bridge. If we are unable to use federal dollars for the
construction of the new four-lane bridge, we can use state
Hayward said previously, and
reiterated in the interview, that DelDOT would pay for the new
bridge entirely with state money if it cannot obtain a federal
appropriation. But, he explained, that money would be replaced
from Delaware's annual pool of federal money not designated for
any specific project so that the net cost to state taxpayers
would be the same as if the highway administration agreed to
help finance the new bridge.
contained in an elaborate comparison of all aspects of the
project distributed at the 'Section 106' meeting listed total
cost of a modification of the design Hayward advocated back in
January, which now seems to be his and DelDOT's favored
alternative, of between $37.5 million and $39 million, depending
on the placement of a companion pedestrian and bicycle path.
Hayward's January preference would cost between $38.5 million
and $40 million. Cost of a parallel span is said to range
between $24.5 million and $27 million.
disparity would be reduced over the expected 100-year life of
the new bridge by the anticipated necessity of having to replace
the existing structure when its time expires a half-century from
now, according to the estimates, which use current cost figures
and dollar values.
no estimate given for what portion of the cost would be picked
up by the federal government.
The options before the 'Section 106'
panel are: (1.) a parallel span with steel girders; (2.) a
parallel bridge with concrete block girders; (3.) a replacement
bridge with concrete girders; (4.) a replacement bridge with
elliptical arches; or (5.) a replacement bridge with parabolic
arches. The first four were presented at the January public
'workshop' with the fourth having been previously announced as
Hayward's preference. The fifth option was said to have been
developed by DelDOT's design consultants in response to comments
received at the 'workshop'. It was originally presented to the
panel at a meeting on May 2, but not made public. It does not
appear on the project Web site.
The Oct. 20 session was the first
"Section 106" meeting about which Delaforum was notified,
despite repeated requests in the past to be advised of their
scheduling, The panel is a public body, as described in
Delaware's open-meeting law, whose gatherings are required to be
announced to and accessible by the public.
Tone of the discussion and detailed
minutes of the May session, contained in the briefing book at
this one, indicated that panel is nowhere near to reaching a
consensus as public presentations by Hayward and at a Delaware
Department of Transportation 'workshop' back in January seemed
The minutes reveal considerable
disputation of points Hayward reportedly made at the May
meeting. His contention that, if there were no existing bridge,
now building one at that location, rather than somewhere else,
would be necessary. Mary Jane Elliott, of Preservation Delaware,
reportedly disagreed with the DelDOT "assumption" that traffic
volume justified expanding the present bridge's capacity and
said she still favored not to build any bridge there.
In another context, Hellmann told the
Oct. 20 meeting that "the no-build option is off the table."
After more than a year of
deliberation a DelDOT 'working group', which included a broader
range of civic and political participants than the 'Section 106'
panel, recommended putting up a parallel two-lane pier-supported
span next to the existing one. Hayward and Governor Ruth Ann
Minner had previously accepted that recommendation, but changed
their minds after what Hayward in January described as "further
There have been objections raised to
replacing the existing bridge, which was built in 1952, with a
new one because the existing one is said to have historical
attributes. Its supporting piers are described as an early
example of the use of concrete piers with a hammerhead
configuration in highway bridge construction. Hayward, however,
"There is nothing unique about those piers; they were put there
because they were cheap and fast."
existing bridge is deemed eligible for inclusion on the national
historical register although it is not listed there now.
Don Klima, director of the Office of
Federal Agency Programs, appeared at the 'Section 106' meeting
to reiterate a threat made in a letter included in the briefing
book that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation would
decide the issue if the local group "cannot bring [it] to
closure." In his oral presentation, he compared the bridge
project with one to provide additional security for the
Washington Monument in the nation's capital, noting that some
compromises in appearance and setting of landmarks have to be
accepted to accomplish what is generally recognized as an
The Washington Post has since
reported that the National Park Service has scrapped plans to
build a visitors center in front of the monument and connected
to it by an underground concourse. In response to public
objections, it will go with less intrusive security structures,
the newspaper article said.
The 'Section 106' panel was told that Federal
Highway Administration officials, during a meeting with the
'project team' in August, asked for alternatives to the
concrete-pier option to address what was described as the
"adverse visual impact" on Hagley. Linda Figg, of Figg
Engineering, presented four possible ways to cover the concrete
piers supporting both the existing bridge and a parallel one
with a stone casing or veneer matching the construction material
used in the vicinity.
Although neither she, Hellmann nor
Tom Myers, of the Federal Highway Administration's Dover office,
said so, but the context of the presentation clearly indicated
that the first option may be the federal agency's preference. It
will make the determination about whether federal money is
provided for the project.
Daniel Muir, the museum's deputy
director, said covering the piers "does not address the problem"
nor alter Hagley's objections to building a parallel span. "The
adverse impact is not [the piers'] appearance. It's their bulk
and the fact they are there," he said.
Elliott suggested that Hagley
consider relocating its main entrance, which is literally
in the shadow of the existing bridge. Muir replied that the iron
gate used as the entrance has been there since 1906 and said
that the foundation that is Hagley's parent organization, does
not own the land surrounding the museum and Eleutherian Library.
Howeverr, he added that there currently is a study being done to
determine "how best to use our land."
Options for the foot- and bicycle
path are to place it either on the bridge, as a fifth lane on a
new bridge or a third lane of a parallel span, or run it down
the steep embankment on the east side of the Brandywine and
cross the stream on a separate bridge underneath the highway
bridge and just above the water.
"It is important that this project
not only move cars but be multi-modal," Gail Van Gilder, of
Delaware Greenways, said. The reason no one now walks to work at
the Du Pont Experimental Station and few commute by bicycle "is
because [they] don't have the ability to do so," she added.