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11/8/2007
Brandywine Hundred Pathways Needed - Meeting 11/8

Public Workshop
Shipley Road Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan
Immaculate Heart of Mary
1000 Shipley Road, Wilmington
Thursday November 8, 2007
4-7 PM
 
The State Department of Transportation (DELDOT) has embarked on an initiative to work with our community to develop a concept plan for a bicycle and pedestrian path along Shipley Road. Later phases of this path ultimately might extend along Weldin Road, Baynard Boulevard and Wilson Road to connect to Talley Day County Park. The public has been invited to DELDOT’s 2nd Shipley Road Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Workshop at Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1000 Shipley Road on Thursday November 8, 2007 from 4 to 7 PM. The first segment of Shipley Road to be studied is from Baynard Boulevard south to the intersection of the Northern Delaware Greenway a Shipley Road. Interested persons are invited to express their views in writing, giving reasons for support, or in opposition to the proposed plan. Comments will be received during the workshop or can be mailed to DelDOT Public Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903. For further information contact DelDOT at 800-652-5600 or write to the above address.

Construction funding for Shipley Road is currently not available but DELDOT does have limited funding to work with the community on "concept design".

DELDOT invited the community to a meeting at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on June 4, 2007 at which time representatives from DELDOT provided the community with initial draft of 3 options for a path:
Adding a sidewalk separated from the road by a grass buffer,
Adding a multi-use trail, also separated by a grass buffer,
Adding a 5 foot shoulder to the road with no buffer.

I recently met with DELDOT in advance of the upcoming second community meeting. DELDOT reports that the community consensus by two-thirds of those responding was to support a 4th option. The 4th option is a meandering context sensitive designed pathway which respects and leaves in place the mature trees and bushes to the extent possible.  Such a pathway would preserve the existing vegetation as both a visual and safety buffer between the cars and the pedestrians. DELDOT representatives listened to the community preference and revised its presentation for the 2nd community meeting on Thursday November 8 to reflect this strong community sentiment.

The project has been broken into 3 phases, and it is possible that a fourth phase might be added:

Phase 1:  Shipley Road from Weldin Road to the Rockwood Greenway;

Phase 2: Shipley Road from Weldin Road to Wilson Road;

Phase 3: Weldin Road from Shipley Road to the Blue Ball State Park;

Possible Phase 4: Baynard Boulevard from Shipley Road to Marsh Road.

The Shipley Road corridor now provides access to the following public amenities and destinations: Alapocas (Blue Ball) State Park, Talley Day County Park and Library, the future Talleyville Girls Softball League at the Old Mill Lane School site, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Shipley Heights County Park, Rockwood County Park and the Northern Delaware Greenway. A safe and sensitively designed Shipley Road pathway is needed now more than ever. There are now many more desirable destinations for pedestrians. However, as traffic has increased, the challenge of designing a safe pathway along Shipley Road has also become even greater. Roads like Shipley Road, Grubb Road, Baynard Boulevard and Weldin Road still maintain much of their "country road" feeling. The pathways along these roads should be sensitively designed to reflect and enhance this "country road feel". As traffic has increased over the years, the general dangerous conditions have worsened for our school children and adults who would otherwise chose to walk or bike along these roads if only we could do so without endangering our lives and the lives of our children.

DELDOT previously worked collaboratively with residents living along the Grubb Road corridor. The Grubb Road context sensitive designed pathway is a DELDOT approved concept plan, which has been approved for detailed design funding in FY 2010 and construction in FY 2011 by the State Department of Transportation. Once completed, the Grubb Road pathway will match the existing small sections of pathways which previously were built at both ends of Grubb Road (near Naamans Road and Foulk Road).

New pathways make our communities more livable.  When these pathways are connected to the Delaware Greenway network, residents will be able to walk or bike from the Brandywine River to the Delaware River. Delaware Greenways, CCOBH representatives and I have collaborated to map the Brandywine Hundred pathway network. The maps are now available. I am pleased to have assisted both the planning and funding of the Brandywine Hundred pathway maps.

Citizens should not be held hostages to always having to use a motor vehicle. Lacking pathways, we have been forced too often to use motor vehicles in order to safely leave from and return to our communities. Residents ought to be able to safely walk so that might enjoy the out of doors, to exercise, to walk to visit friends and neighbors, as well as to walk to our schools, churches, shops and parks. We will all enjoy happier, healthier and longer lives if are able to walk regularly.

It would enrich our lives if we could enhance our current limited walking options to locations outside our immediate subdivisions. It is ironic that many of us are compelled to drive to locations where we can find a safe pathway or park within which to walk. We live in a mature community where due to poor planning and narrow shoulders along our roads, we are limited as to how much we can retrofit to create pathways. These pathways are the “missing links” that we must challenge ourselves to create. Although the challenge is great and the options are limited, we must strive with determination to connect our communities, schools, parks and libraries with pathways. 

It is much less expensive to build pathways than to build roadways. A safe network of pathways will encourage many citizens to shift some of our short excursions to these pathways. Pathways pay for themselves when a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis is performed; when factors include controlling healthcare costs, attacking obesity, encouraging healthy lifestyles, minimizing rush hour traffic congestion, fostering public safety and general traffic congestion management are included in the analysis.

I look forward to seeing all of you soon walking along our Brandywine Hundred pathways.

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