the format for that kind of session precludes an open airing of
opinion in favor of submitting written comments and holding
mostly one-on-one conversations with Delaware Department of
Transportation representatives, it was evident from a sampling
of comments that emotions are running strong on both sides of
proposal is to cut the number of travel lanes in each direction
from two to one and allow parking along the road except where it
is necessary to accommodate drivers wanting to turn off the road
into Fairfax or Deerhurst.
folks who live along Murphy Road initiated the DelDOT project as
a way to reduce traffic volume and slow down drivers who almost
universally ignore the posted 35 m.p.h. speed limit. Others --
particularly people who commute from the north and east -- want
Murphy left as it is to avoid lengthening the queues at traffic
signals at both ends.
Fierro, president of Fairfax Civic Association, summed up the
situation when the told Delaforum "there are so many different
opinions that it's [impossible] to pinpoint any kind of
point during the 'hearing', Mark Luszcz, the consultant, told a
group that he estimated 85% of the attenders were opposed to the
basic plan. About 20 minutes later he told Delaforum that
opposition was running 60% to 70% opposed. Called on the
discrepancy, he said it reflected "shifting opinions."
of attenders had reached 150 with about an hour left in the
four-hour session, at which people come and go. Usual attendance
at such a 'hearing' on what is considered a 'local' road issue
is between 50 and 75.
said the most recent rush-hour traffic counts show that 800
vehicles an hour use the road on workday mornings and 1,200 in
the afternoon. Those, he said, are the peaks of volume totaling
13,000 a day. Don Carbaugh, chairman of the Delaware Bicycle
Council, said that a 2001 DelDOT report said the daily volume
was more like 24,000.
said a slimmed-down Murphy Road could handle the present volume,
pointing out that there are many other two-lane roads with
comparable volumes. "We are not changing how the [major]
intersections at both ends work," he said. "Traffic will back up
once in a while, but it is not going to be as bad as you think
it will be."
the proposed design is based on an assumption that Powder Mill
through the Astra Zeneca corporate complex will remain open to
public use after the planned direct link to a partial
interchange at the Concord Pike-Foulk Road intersection is
of objection to the Murphy Road plan is that its volume will
increase with the anticipated significant growth in Astra Zeneca
Kraak, the resident who is generally credited with inspiring the
plan, suggested, however, that that volume could be better
handled by having the standard traffic pattern diverted to the
interchange. "They should go to Blue Ball. It might take them a
little longer, but that's better than letting them destroy two
fine communities," she said. "[Through] traffic should stay on
state roads that have numbers."
Road runs for about three quarters of a mile between Fairfax and
Deerhurst, linking Concord Pike and Foulk Road. While it
officially has an individual identity, most drivers regard it as
a segment of a road between the Brandywine and Ardentown which
goes by four names, depending on where you are at any given
moment -- Powder Mill, Murphy, Wilson and Veale.
DelDOT proposal is to use pavement markings to narrow Murphy to
two travel lanes for most of its distance. Wilson and Veale are
two lanes; Powder Mill is four for most of its length, widening
to six at the Concord Pike end.
design displayed at the 'hearing' shows the eastbound side of
Murphy narrowing from two to one lane at a point opposite
Inglewood Road and widening again to provide left-turn lanes as
it approaches Thomas Road and, farther along, Bybrook Road
and the Foulk Road intersection. Westbound, there would be one
lane from Foulk matching the single through lane feeding traffic
from Wilson to Inglewood. Luszcz said parking probably would be
prohibited to provide room for vehicles to pass on the right any
vehicles making left turns from westbound Murphy onto Hurst and
alternative design would make Murphy a three-lane road its
entire length with the middle lane supposedly restricted to
left-turning vehicles traveling in both directions. It was not
clear how that would work with potentially competing vehicles at
Thomas and Bedford, which are only a few feet apart.
probably an academic point anyway, Luszcz said, because "I don't
know a single person in the world who is in favor of that
the process will be for DelDOT officials to "evaluate" the
comments received at the 'hearing' and decide on whether to
proceed. If that decision is affirmative, a nearly-final plan
will be presented, probably some time in November at the next in
a series of sessions about the overall Blue Ball Project.