Blue Ball Properties Master Plan

Transportation Technical Committee

Meeting Report
Date: December 22, 1999
Location: Brandywine High School Cafeteria, New Castle County, Delaware

  1. Introduction / Opening Comments

    Jim Lisa of DEDO welcomed the attendees and explained that the committee members will be allowed the first round of questions. Lisa also stated that the format remained the same as the previous meetings: the presentation would run about 15-20 minutes in its entirety, with no questions or interruptions, then there would be a question and answer period. Before the meeting was adjourned, AstraZeneca would present information about their proposed development and their initial designs.

    Jim explained that presentation would be:
    • a follow-up of the previous week's data;
    • AstraZeneca's presentation.
    Jim noted that Gail Van Gilder had provided a very thoughtful and thorough list of comments and that the Technical Coordinating Committee had responded to each of the 22 points. Per Gail's consent, copies of the questions and responses were distributed and will be available on the Web site.

    Jim noted that next week's meeting, December 29, 1999 will be held at Bellevue Hall and the January 5, 2000 meeting will be held at Brandywine High School, as will the January 10, 2000 Town Hall meeting.
  2. Presentation

    Joe Wutka, the Chair of the Transportation Committee explained two issues that would be addressed first:
    • The Tyler McConnel Bridge and the effect of the expected increase in capacity to the model;
    • Phasing and how to provide improvements with the current development that is being done.
    Tyler McConnel Bridge

    Wutka noted that the question of the increased capacity from a new, four-lane Tyler McConnel Bridge and how it affects the regional traffic model had been brought up a number of times. The response is that, although it seems that improvements to the bridge are "far in the future," they are actually in the Draft Capital Improvement Program (CIP), and funds are expected to be available in the fiscal year 2003. The funding is provided in the FY2003 CIP because the expected completion date of the expansion project is by 2010. Wutka explained as a result of this new information, there is no reason to change the modeling.

    Phasing and current development

    Wutka explained the traffic numbers again, that there is an increase in traffic between 1999 and 2010. Included in this increase is background growth, growth due to AZ and DuPont. Of the growth, only 20% is caused by the DuPont Experimental Station and AstraZeneca. He noted that besides the current Safety Improvement work, other improvements will be in place before the highway improvement construction begins at the Triangle, such as: transit improvements, TDM, and ITMS options.

    The ITMS options are signal phasing and coordination measures that will be in place in the next two years. TDM includes the proposed Park & Ride, car & van pooling. All of these measures are part of the agreement that the County has with AstraZeneca, and were needed for a waiver for the UDC process.

    Transit options being reviewed include the light rail system, a monorail and other options. Although they may not be in place when the highway improvements begin, it is important not to preclude them as possibilities in the future.

    Wutka stated that he would like to bring all of the transit studies conducted thus far together to formulate what improvements can be made.

    A question as to whether transit improvements could substitute for the proposed highway improvements was answered by explaining that the increase in number of trips made in the area will be about 65,242 a day. At this rate, it would require transit to increase its capacity that much, when it is now only carrying about 10,000 trips a day.

    Barry Schoch of McCormick, Taylor & Associates explained that the focus on his presentation would be:
    • Transit;
    • the Augustine Cut-Off;
    • Childrens Drive.

    Barry noted that some transit analysis has been done and that the traffic model includes a 10% reduction in trips, broken down into 6% for transit and 4% for TDM, pedestrian and bikes, etc. (See PowerPoint Presentation for details)

    To achieve the 10% reduction, there will need to be a doubling of expected ridership by 2010. It was noted that this large an increase might require a transit hub in the area, additional service and additional routes. Other amenities such as signal preemption, and diamond lanes may be implemented in conjunction with the improvements to transit. Augustine Cut-Off

    The major issues that have been focused on previously (safety and congestion) are still primary concerns at the Augustine Cut-Off. To address questions regarding the increase of traffic to the local City of Wilmington roads due to a road option to close the Augustine Cut-Off , an additional option was developed. This new option would retain the signal with an eastbound right out of the Augustine Cut-Off at Rt. 202, and a left turn into Augustine Cut-Off from Rt. 202. Eastbound left turns and southbound right-turns would not be allowed at this intersection, but would be made through the proposed local road system (See PowerPoint Presentation) A new local road connection will be built to the east and west from Augustine Cut-Off, and the new local road system will be aligned with the connector at the Rt. 202 ramp.

    The CORSIM traffic simulation model was shown to demonstrate the concerns if the Augustine Cut-Off signal as it exists were retained. The CORSIM traffic simulation demonstrated that the existing traffic signal will cause back-ups through the whole area, as was previously noted in Option 6 (the Diamond), where retaining the signal negated the improvements to the Rt. 141/ Murphy Road intersection and the new interchange.

    One positive of retaining Augustine Cut-Off as it currently remains is the signal reduces the number of vehicles that would utilize local roads such as Broom Street by separating and redistributing local and regional traffic.

    The concern affiliated with this option is the same concern of retaining a signal on Rt. 202. Many of the accidents that have occurred in the 3 year period previously reviewed, from 7/96-6/99, were from rear-end collisions at the intersection of Augustine Cut-Off and Rt. 202. One aspect that has been altered regarding this is that there is no longer the weave to get to the Augustine Cut-Off, resulting in less decisions that the driver needs to make.

    Children's Drive

    The question of whether the intersection of Rt. 141/ Childrens Drive can be realigned to connect opposite the AstraZeneca site was examined, and is a feasible option.

    The PowerPoint presentation shows the lane configurations that are being studied and both alternatives maintain a "no degradation" level.

    Next Steps:
    1. Continue to address issues;
    2. Continue to refine renderings;
    3. A rating of options will be made using the full list of evaluation criteria.
  3. Questions / Answers / Comments

    Q: Will the new Augustine Cut-Off option work with Options 5 or 6?
    1. It works best with Option 6 because it retains the existing signal at the intersection of Foulk Road and Rt. 202.
    Q: What are the differences between Options 5 and 6?
    1. Both options meet the "no degradation" criteria, the comparisons are between the signal remaining on Rt. 202 or the loop ramps.
    Q: There is concern from the committee that there I-95 improvements still need to be addressed - specifically the I-95S to Route 202 North exit ramp. This is still bottle-necked and needs to be added to the program.
    1. Wutka responded improvements to the I-95 ramp system may be made as part of the Blue Ball project.
    Q: Is the CORSIM model still being run with Rt. 141 remaining open?
    1. Yes, all the modeling was run with Rt. 141 remaining open. AstraZeneca will review their design options, and the impacts that may occur on Rt. 141.
    Q: How can the signal remain at the Augustine Cut-Off and Rt. 202 when there are 114 rear-end collisions at this site?
    1. There are trade-offs with each of these options. As noted previously, this option improves safety somewhat by reducing the number of decisions and removing the weave movement when making a right from Rt. 202 onto Augustine Cut-Off.
    Q: How can the Safety Improvement Project that is currently underway actually increase safety if there are no definite numbers available for how many accidents will be reduced?
    1. The number of accidents can't be predicted, but causation factors can be looked at and adjustments and improvement recommendations can be made. Turning lanes, staking problems and site distances (among other things) are all contributing factors, these will be assessed and improvements made.
    Comment: The concerns that were expressed by Drew VanDyk will be addressed at the December 29, 1999 meeting.

    Q: Will the traffic signal at the Independence Mall remain?
    1. Yes.
    AstraZeneca Presentation:

    Darrell Minott from DEDO introduced the presentation. He noted the history of

    AstraZeneca's involvement in the area and the commitments that were made to have the

    new campus in Delaware:
    • A promise to AstraZeneca that the "no degradation" criteria would be met;
    • To correct the existing traffic problem and provide a long term solution;
    • Design an open space area on the east and west sides of Rt. 202 that can be utilized and enjoyed by the entire community.
    Tony Felicia of AstraZeneca shared the history of AstraZeneca, as well as the company's involvement with Delaware. Felicia stated that they have been on the Fairfax site since 1955. He explained that the campus expects to employ 5,000 to 6,200 employees on the site by the opening year of 2002. He also noted that many amenities have been added to the campus, such as restaurants and sundries to help the employees remain on the campus and cut out the need to add to local traffic. He noted that they have selected the architect firm CUH2A, of Princeton, NJ, along with the construction management firm, Gilbane, from Philadelphia, PA.

    Felicia reviewed the criteria for the site, primarily to design the campus as a contiguous site, at 3-4 story height, to minimize impact to natural resources and maintaining good views. He reviewed the challenges to the site and noted the potential impacts to Rt. 141.

    Charles Manula of AstraZeneca, who is the lead in the development of the project, reviewed the two (2) initial alternatives:

    Option 1: there is currently not enough square footage available, so Rt. 141 is heavily encroached upon, with a bridge connecting the two campuses;

    Option 2: the bridge over Rt. 141 will be built upon, allowing for additional square footage.

    It was noted that as these designs move forward, information will be shared with the Blue Ball committees.
  4. Conclusion/ Adjournment

    The committee concluded its discussions at 7:00 PM. The next meeting is on December 29, 1999 at 7:30 PM at the Bellevue Mansion.