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Major construction of Blue Ball Project complete

By Adam Zewe
Staff Reporter

Wilmington News Journal
Posted Sunday, January 13, 2008

Brandywine Hundred residents breathed a sigh of relief at the final public meeting for the Blue Ball Properties project on Jan. 7. Major construction of the seven-year, $130 million project is finished, officials from the Delaware Department of Transportation told 75 residents at the meeting.

“Pretty much what you see is what it’s going to be,” said Bob King, community relations officer for the department.

The project included road improvements, historic preservation, wetland restoration, improved storm water management, recreation improvements, publicparkland and greenways.

There are still some minor projects to complete, King said, but the to-do list is small compared to the project’s 100- page master plan.

Landscaping and signs need to be finished around Alapocas Run State Park, a new state park near the intersection of Routes 141 and 202, he said.

Most of the park is open, said park manager Susan Staats, but the athletic fields will open this Spring once the grass grows and a bathroom will be constructed later this year at the park’s playground.

A dog park, which is a fenced area where residents can bring their dogs to play without leashes, will be built in Alapocas Run State Park at the intersection of Foulk and Weldin roads, she said.

The dog park and all the remaining work for the project should be complete by the end of the year, said Mark Tudor, the department’s project manager.

“DNREC and DelDOT are still here and we will still be fine-tuning some things,” he said.

But Tudor does not expect the fine-tuning to be disruptive to motorists or residents.

Residents experienced plenty of disruption from construction vehicles and lane closures during the seven-year project, said Brandywine Hundred resident Sue Finnie.

Finnie, said that she was skeptical of the project in the beginning, but is pleased with the end result.

“It’ll be a little confusing until people ride on it enough,” she said, of the new traffic patterns. “I think it was worth it, in the long run, what they finished. The roads look really good.”

The project involved construction of the Route 141 Spur, widening of Route 202, reconstruction of a ramp from Interstate 95, and construction on the Augustine Cutoff, West and East Park Drives, Children’s Drive and Powder Mill Road.

“It’s nice to not have all the construction, but it’s nice to see the progress and the end result of it,” said Bob Blazovic, a Brandywine Hundred resident.

He said he drives on the redesigned roads during rush hour everyday and traffic moves faster because of the improvements.

“I think the project has been an upgrade for the environment and the cultural aspects of Brandywine Hundred,” he said.

The area’s culture is highlighted through a folk art display inside the renovated Blue Ball Dairy Barn and the environment has been preserved on a five-mile greenway trail.

The greenway, a 10- foot-wide path for walkers or bicyclists, is complete except for a bridge over Turkey Run Creek in Brandywine Hundred.

New Castle County Councilman Robert Weiner (R-2nd District) said New Castle County plans to install the bridge. He did not know how much it will cost, but said the county will seek funding this Spring.

The greenway will be improved along Rockwood Road, Weiner said, but he did not know when the project will start. A $1 million project will shift Rockwood Road and a hiking path will be built alongside it.

Mike Bensinger, a Brandywine Hundred resident, said he is happy with the barn and greenway, but he thinks the department built too much.

“In Delaware, we tend to overdo some things,” he said. “It’s pretty, what they’ve done, but Delaware, over time, it seems to be overdeveloping.”

Highway project to begin in 2009

A project to redesign the U.S. Route 202/ I-95 interchange, which was not a part of the Blue Ball Properties plan, is scheduled to start in 2009.

The ramp from Northbound I-95 onto Northbound Route 202 will be rebuilt so it is two lanes for its entire length, said David Galeone, an engineer with McCormick Taylor, the firm that designed the ramps.

The ramp from Southbound I-95 onto Southbound Route 202 will be moved to the East side of Route 202, which will make the merge area safer, he said.

The Route 202/I-95 merge area is dangerous because motorists entering the Interstate from Route 202 are accelerating while motorists exiting the Interstate onto Route 202 are slowing down, said Galeone.

The project, which is expected to cost $30 million and take two years to complete, will be put to bid in Fall, 2009, said Tudor.

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