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Shipley Road pathway championed by Councilman Bob Weiner

At the request of Councilman Bob Weiner, a community meeting was held at the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 4, 2007 at which time representatives from the State Department of Transportation provided the community with options for a pathway along Shipley Road. The pathway project has been broken into 3 phases, with a possible 4th phase:
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.
From 1986 to 1996 (at which time Bob Weiner was elected to represent Brandywine Hundred as their New Castle County Councilman), Bob Weiner was the Zoning Chairman of the Council of Civic Organizations of Brandywine Hundred (CCOBH). In 1986, Bob worked with other community leaders to help establish the Shipley Road Civic Alliance for the singular purpose of preserving Shipley Road's scenic and historic integrity and for the purpose of preventing the widening of Shipley Road. The late Phil Cloutier, Rick Browne (one of the original founders), Dr. Dudley Spencer, Chip Connolly Esq. (past-President of the Shipley Road Alliance) and other long time Alliance members can attest to Councilman Bob Weiner?s passionate commitment during this successful struggle. If it were not these collective efforts under Bob?s leadership, the bridge at Rockwood Museum would have long ago been converted to a four lane major bridge; which would have then been used to buttress developer John Rollins' initiative to convert Shipley Road into a 4 lane roadway providing direct access from Interstate 495 to the Brandywine Town Center.
At the same time, as a member of Rockwood's Board, Bob Weiner initiated the funding effort to build the historic walls along Shipley Road at Rockwood Museum as well. He battled then with DELDOT leadership who were initially opposed to the construction of the stone walls. With great community support, the community prevailed. DELDOT finally agreed to build the walls and then ironically received national awards for the stone walls. Then DELDOT decided to emulate the Rockwood/Shipley Road wall project elsewhere.  Now DELDOT regularly builds stone walls and stone embankments; many of which have received national awards.
Having heard from many of his constituents, Councilman Weiner has been in constant communications with the State Department of Transportation (DELDOT) since 2000 championing a Shipley Road context sensitive design pathway. This concept had the support of many area citizens but had been tabled 5 years earlier in 2000 due to a lack of community consensus. With the addition of Blue Ball Park amenities, Tally Day County Park enhancements (i.e. the library and bark park whose location at the park was as a result of my initiatives), the future Talleyville Girls Softball League at the Old Mill Lane School site (whose location at the site was as a result of Bob Weiner?s initiative) and the general dangerous conditions that had worsened for our school children and adults, the need to address the challenge of designing a context sensitive pathway along these roadways had been even greater.
?Context sensitive designed pathways? are respectful of the existing mature trees and bushes along country roads such as Grubb Road and Shipley Road. The Grubb Road context sensitive designed pathway is a DELDOT approved project, which has been approved for detailed design funding in 2010 by the State Department of Transportation.  Once completed, the Grubb Road pathway will match the existing small sections of pathways that had already been previously been built at both ends of Grubb Road (near Naamans Road and Foulk Road).
Bob Weiner has long championed sidewalks (where appropriate), pathways and greenways in Brandywine Hundred, Claymont and elsewhere. Bob said that he looks forward to being involved in the Shipley Road/Weldin Road/Baynard Boulevard Community Study. Councilman Weiner recently said at the DELDOT community workshop on June 4, 2007: ?The addition of pathways will make our communities more livable. Citizens should not be held hostages to our motor vehicles always lacking the option of walking to where we live, shop, work, play, pray or school our children. Lacking pathways, we have been forced to always retreat to motor vehicles in order to safely leave and return to our communities. Residents ought to be able to enjoy our environment, breath fresh and clean air, exercise, walk to visit friends and neighbors, walk to schools, churches, stores and parks. We will all enjoy happier, healthier and longer lives if we are enabled to safely walk outside our immediate communities.
Bob Weiner observed that it is much less expensive to build pathways then to build roadways. Said Weiner, ?Pathways will encourage citizens to shift some of their short excursions to pathways. In terms of controlling healthcare costs, attacking obesity, encouraging healthy lifestyles, minimizing rush hour traffic congestion, fostering public safety and general traffic congestion management, I believe that pathways pay for themselves when a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis is performed.  (see national studies conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
In the Brandywine Community News article below issued June 8, 2007, the reporter failed to report that there was a strong preference expressed for another option not shown in the 3 options prepared in advance of the June 4 Community Meeting. This 4th option was described by Councilman Bob Weiner to the group as a meandering context sensitive designed pathway that respected the mature trees and bushes to the extent possible; thus preserving the existing vegetation as both a visual and a safety buffer between the cars and the pedestrians. DELDOT representatives said that they would carefully consider this proposed modification. 

By Jesse Chadderdon

Staff Reporter

Brandywine Hundred residents had their first look at potential plans for the installation

of a pedestrian and bicycle pathway along Shipley Road.

The workshop at Immaculate Heart of Mary School on June 4 drew about 30 community members, who saw three possible options for improving pedestrian access along the roadway.

Installation of such a pathway or sidewalk is several years away, but the Delaware
Department of Transportation used about $50,000 in federal grant money to study the possibility of installing such improvements along the narrow but well-traveled roadway.

The first phase of installation is proposed for the stretch of road between Baynard Boulevard to the north and the Delaware Greenway to the south.

What form the pedestrian route takes is largely up to the community, said DelDOT representative Roberta Geier.

"We want to hear what the community wants to see," she said. "Once we get a concept of what that is, we’ll probably come to the community again."

The three potential options include a pedestrian sidewalk with a grass buffer, a wider trail that could also accommodate bicycles and five-foot shoulder lane designated for bikes and pedestrians.

Some of those in attendance suggested that DelDOT should also consider a meandering pathway, which would allow older trees or other physical impediments to be circumvented and thereby preserved.

Erik Balsley, the engineer with CH Planning who generated the three proposals, said it was very possible that the final product could be something different than all of them.

"We recognize that these may not be the only options," he said.

Most of the people in attendance indicated support for some kind of improvements.

"There are people walking on these roads right now even though they’re not safe," said Eve Tahmincioglu, president of the Liftwood Estates Civic Association. "Just the other day, I saw a mother pushing a baby in a stroller almost get run off the road."

William Rhodunda, a land use attorney who lives in the Shipley Road corridor, said he believes the state needs to do more to provide safe pedestrian access on heavily residential roads.

"I’m amazed that you’re required to put sidewalks within a subdivision but there are no requirements for sidewalks on the arterial roads," he said. "It’s nice to see Brandywine Hundred start to catch up with the way things should be."

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