Hayward revealed in a surprise announcement before the General
Assembly's 'bond bill' committee that he had given up on being
able to obtain partial federal financing for a picturesque
four-lane replacement. While so doing, he acknowledged that he
has abandoned as impractical the alternative of the state paying
the entire cost, which he has been advocating for more than two
Measuring the transportation needs of a growing population
against sharply escalating construction costs and political
reluctance of the General Assembly to provide new revenue
sources or increase the take from existing ones, there "is just
no way we can justify [100% state financing to] tear down the
bridge," he told a meeting of areawide civic association
said traffic volume requires that "we move on with design and
construction" without further delay. The most recent plan called
for construction to begin during fiscal 2006. That timetable has
slipped by at least three years.
crossing, which carries Barley Mill Road to a 'T' intersection
with Powder Mill and New Bridge Roads and the entrance to the Du
Pont Experimental Station, is a two-lane pinchpoint in the
four-lane transcounty State Route 141.
Figures presented during the last public workshop session DelDOT
held on the Tyler McConnell project, in June, 2003, put the
estimated cost of a new four-lane bridge at $40 million.
Building a parallel span next to the existing bridge would run
somewhere in the neighborhood of $27 million, depending upon
design. With Federal Highway Administration approval of the
project, the federal government would provide up to 80% of the
Delaforum previously reported, that approval was unlikely
because the existing bridge is serviceable -- albeit inadequate
to handle present traffic volume -- and could
Bridge -- Transportation secretary Nathan Hayward said
the ugly duckling will get a beautiful sister.
as an historic structure.
Hayward's remarks before County Executive Christopher Coons's
monthly 'umbrella' civic associations session on Jun. 2 focused
largely on DelDOT's attempt to cope with restrictions on its
capital spending plans for the coming fiscal year.
justified as necessary the controversial set of project
cutbacks, but said that, for the most part, that involves
postponements rather than cancellations.
was speaking, Wilmington Area Planning Council was debating
relative priorities of the projects on the list. It ended up
backing away from its previous challenge to the list and
unanimously approved it. Council approval of a three-year
Transportation Improvement Plan meets the 'public participation'
requirement to obtain federal financing for listed projects.
figuratively throwing in the towel on his fight for a more
aesthetic bridging of the Brandywine than has existed since the
early 1950s, Hayward held out hope that his position may be
vindicated by whoever occupies his position a decade or two from
parallel two-lane span, he said, will be "a hell of a sight
better looking than what's there now." The resultant contrast,
he reasoned, will build public pressure "to do something with
the ugly bridge next to it."
design of the new bridge will be either an elliptical arch --
which Hayward previously said he favored for a replacement
four-lane span -- or a steel span supported by concrete piers on
the banks of the creek, he said.
saying he "hated to give up" his concept of providing what has
come in planning circles to be called 'context-sensitive design'
compatible with Hagley Mills, Henry Clay village and other
elements of that stretch of the Brandywine Valley, Hayward
indicated that he carried the fight down to the wire.
recently as May 27, an official DelDOT spokesman, responding to
an inquiry from Delaforum, said that the next step in the Tyler
McConnell saga would be receipt sometime in midsummer of an
engineering report. Hayward referred obliquely to that in his
remarks saying that DelDOT "even had the experts out" to see if
they could find any flaws in the existing bridge that would
justify tearing it down.
pointed out that there was no lack of irony in the situation.
century ago, even as the Du Pont Co. on the occasion of the
150th anniversary of its founding was paying to turn Hagley, the
long-abandoned site of its original black-power operation, into
a permanent public attraction, it also was putting up a quarter
million dollars to improve access to the functioning
experimental station. The former was a rather lavish venture
while "they were pushing for the fastest, cheapest way to get
their employees to work," Hayward said. To that end, a
stone-arch design originally considered for the Tyler McConnell
bridge was rejected, he added.
different Du Pont Co. nowadays has similar motivation for
expanding the traffic-carrying capacity of the crossing, but
there is no chance that it would be willing to be involved in
planning council's acceptance of DelDOT's scaled back plans for
fiscal 2006 was conditioned on an understanding that some or all
of the projects would be restored if additional federal support
becomes available. Delaforum previously reported that
possibility, but Heather Dunnigan, the council's senior planner,
said that, at best, only a small amount of additional money may
response to a directive from Governor Ruth Ann Minner, DelDOT
sliced $202 million worth of work from its agenda for the fiscal
year beginning July 1. That reduced the plan by about a third to
$445 million. Of the cuts, about $80 million involved projects
specific to New Castle County.
listed by the council, top priority for restoration goes to
putting the rebuilding of the Interstate 95 interchange with
Concord Pike back in. Hayward told the civic leaders that had
been pushed back because it was a major project whose delay
would account for a large amount of the required cuts. "We had
to go for the big stuff first," he said.
relatively small cut which has proven controversial with the
civic leaders was elimination of money for preliminary planning
for an extension of Churchmans Road through Delaware Park to
Kirkwood Highway. Hayward said that was done because the
racetrack's management is adamantly opposed to building bridges
over the two sets of main-line railroad tracks which traverse
the property. A study looking into the feasibility of building a
tunnel under the tracks is underway, he said.
not willing to spend public money to plan a road that might not
have a chance to be built," he said. That could happen, he
added, if a tunnel is found not to be feasible and "you have a
large, politically powerful land owner such as Delaware Park
saying 'not over our dead body are you going to build a bridge
on our land'."