Thursday, August 19, 2021

1st State Bikes presents comments for Churchmans Crossing Plan

Project boundary (click to enlarge)
Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

Greetings, Wilmapco.
Please add our comments below to the Churchmans Crossing Plan, before the Sept 2021 deadline. Upon generations of failed elected leadership, and climate catastrophe now looming, the need to facilitate active and green transport modes could not be more dire. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:
  • The project scope contains several bi-directional MUP facilities (Multi-User Pathways) that were built decades ago. Along SR4 and SR58 is the East Coast Greenway (ECG). These need to be improved and/or rehabbed using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance) esp where crossing through intersections.
  • Where MUP facilities exist, or will be added, these should never go off-alignment with acute zig-zagging through intersections via narrow sidewalks; MUPs should maintain their full width (min. 8' wide asphalt, buffered where possible) and continue in parallel to the road they are on, including through radial turns. Look to DelDOT's "SR299, SR1 to Catherine Street Project (pdf)" as a good example, or APBP/NACTO guidelines.
  • An 8' asphalt MUP facility should replace the narrow sidewalk on SR58/Churchmans Rd from just east of Christiana Hospital to at least Cavaliers, and include a marked, button actuated crosswalk (of equal width) under SR7/1. A MUP currently exists along the Christiana Hospital property, and there is a well designed bike-ped bridge over I95 further east on SR58 as you approach Cavaliers. These should all be connected in one contiguous 8' bi-directional facility, as an improvement to the ECG.
  • Upgrade/improve/rehab the following MUP connectors using best design & engineering guidance (APBP/NACTO compliance):
    => East Coast Greenway within project scope
    => Lisbeth Rd to Brennen School parking lot
    => Old Ogletown Rd to SR4-Salem Church Jct
    => Prides Crossing to SR4 MUP/ECG
    => E. Cherokee Dr to Johnson Rd
    => SR4 MUP/ECG continuity at Augusta
  • Convert abandoned roads into MUPs:
    => Old Harmony Rd from north of Greenridge Rd to Old Capitol Trail
    => S. Wakefield thru Leathermans Run
  • Dearth of parks: Streets used as ball courts
    A park that includes ball courts, walking & biking paths, benches and other forms of place and destination-making is desperately needed for Harmony Woods and the region in general.
  • Add a shoulder bike lane on Salem Church Rd between I95 and Old Baltimore Pike, on what is technically "Bike Route 1". Cars and trucks cannot safely pass cyclists here without entering the opposing lane, and road rage commonly ensues.
  • Reduce the speed limit on SR4 from 50 mph to 40 mph, and 35 mph in school zones: DE Deaf-Blind, Kirk MS. Several speed studies over the years have shown rampant speeding along this corridor, in access of 57 avg mph. Investigate the use of traffic calming measures such as median vegetation plantings, signage, and other means to protect the children from these schools, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods. They often cross SR4 at Augusta, going to and from 7/11 for snacks. Reducing the speed limit cannot be emphasized enough. Delaware is now ranked #1 deadliest State in the nation for biking, and near #1 for walking, largely due to abject failure in this regard.
  • Recognize and honor the passing of Thomas Ogle, founder of Ogletown, who died exactly 250 years ago on 12/23/1771. This should include a spur pathway connector from the existing SR4 MUP aka ECG, along with a historical wayside and some bike parking (as seen at regular intervals along, e.g. the Markell Trail/Indus Track). This article in Delaware on-line from 2015 highlights that very need, which went ignored.
  • Typical "goat path" from the ECG in S. Newark
    Reduce neighborhood street speed limits from 25 to 20 mph, led by a "20 is Plenty" safety campaign or similar. Cost estimate HERE.
  • Assess, formalize and convert all "goat path" connections into MUPs. These are commonly visible coming off existing MUPs, usually connecting to adjacent shopping centers and strip malls. These occur when numerous people walk or bike across grass that eventually erodes and forms its own trail. These should be upgraded to pathways.
Please advise how we may track our comments through the process, to verify if they are being considered for implementation or not. Thank you for listening.

SIGNED: Angela Connolly and Frank Warnock

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Abandoned and forgotten: Thomas Ogle, 1705-1771

Mother Nature closing in: Thomas Ogle's tomb as of Aug 3, 2021

Thomas Ogle, founder of Ogletown, will have passed away 250 years ago as of Dec 23, 2021. Unless something secret is planned that we don't know about, this historical moment in time -- a quarter-millennium ago -- may come and go with nary a peep from regional State and NCC Legislators. According to a reliable source familiar with historical preservation and legislation in Delaware:

Asking your State legislators for a proclamation from the General Assembly is a good place to start. The legislature won't be back in session now until January but a staff person can help draft one during the summer months, and in the opening days of legislative session read it and present it to your group.
Next step: It takes a while to get funding from the State as they have just completed this fiscal year and won't have access to money until next June, but this is the right time to plant the seed. It may take as long as 2 or 3 years as the legislators will have to negotiate with Parks & Rec and DelDOT, but the more clearly you can write a one page proposal of who, what, when and where (about 100 words) and get it to appropriate staff people in those agencies, with cc's to your elected officials, the better luck you will have.

Though most of this doesn't sound very difficult per se, involvement from our end will be difficult to stomach. 3 years of our lives were lost, discarded, thrown away by the region's legislators in our attempt to save the Orphanage Property, which was crushed under the boot of DE government corruption that included conspiracy, profiteering and a rampant conflict of interest.

According to The Ogle Genealogist family publication:
Ogle Genealogist Page 32

Thomas Ogle (born 1705 in DE, died on Dec 23 1771 in New Castle County (NCC), DE, possibly married three times and with nine known children), was the son of Thomas Ogle (born 1666/72 in DE, died between Juuly 30 and Sept 18 1734 also in NCC, DE) and Mary Crawford. He was the grandson of the immigrant John Ogle (born 1648/49 — died 1684) and Elizabeth, whose maiden name has not been irrefutably identified.

Thomas became a wealthy and influential businessman and planter in New Castle County. He owned three mills and a wharf at Christiana Bridge, hundreds of acres of agricultural and forested land in NCC, and many additional investments.

Thomas built a stylish, two-story, brick house in 1739 at the northeast corner of a junction of three important roads: present day DE SR273, which extended from Christiana Bridge to Nottingham in PA; DE SR4 4 (Chestnut Hill Rd.) from Stanton through Newark DE to the Elk River in Maryland; and Red Mill Road, which ran north from the intersection of SR273 and SR4 to Corner Ketch. All these roads were significant transportation arteries by 1750 and have remained important for 250 years. A fourth highway, Salem Church Road, was constructed in 1827 in a southerly direction from the intersection.

Thomas Ogle's various businesses, large land holdings, and community influence led to the sizable area around his home being named Ogle Town (later Ogletown) sometime before 1762. The stately house, which Thomas also operated as an inn, survived for 216 years. Thomas was buried near the historic house and a reasonable distance from the then narrow, dirt roads that formed the crossroads.

Sadly, it is doubtful that Senators Bryan Townsend and Jack Walsh, Reps Osienski and David Bentz, or NCC's Lisa Diller and Tim Sheldon (all of whom represent Ogletown) will recognize anything about Thomas Ogle and this historical milestone. No park or monument designation, no spur pathway, no kiosk, not even a wayside. And why should they care? The region is socio-economically depressed and undeserving of nice things that include history and place-making. As demonstrated by the STOP travesty, citizen advocacy would likely falter (or even be laughed at) in the face of low to no public or volunteer support.

Around the anniversary date of Dec 23, we will visit the burial site with landscaping tools of our own, and leave a tribute behind to remind Thomas that someone was indeed thinking of him (UPDATE 08/17/2021: we received an email from Delaware Public Archives (DPA) with regard to the Delaware Historical Markers Program. They are supportive of a Historical Marker installed at the site, which can only happen via an application process. Stay tuned for any progress.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Comments on the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan

Cross-posted from 1st State Bikes

Greetings, DE State Parks.
Please add our comments below to the White Clay Creek State Park Master Plan, before the 8-2-2021 deadline. Thank you very much.

In no particular order:

  • There is only 1 park bench/rest stop along the paved Tri-Valley SUP (Shared Use Pthway). There needs to be more, at equal distances, so people can stop, rest and take in the views. The same goes for the entire length of the Pomeroy Trail.
  • "Shared Zone" (or similar, MUTCD) and posted speed limit signs need to be added along Creek Road and Wedgewood Roads where these are paved and shared with motor vehicles. See attached image (right). Presently there is no signage, and no posted speed limit, and cars -- often times speeding -- are weaving between bike-ped traffic.
  • We do NOT agree with the others who are against using stone dust, fine gravel or limestone or other packing materials on trails. Please continue to use these as a proven means to control erosion and formalize trails as needed.
  • Please REMOVE the hanging cable that is blocking Tom Sharpe Lane, at Judge Morris Estate, turning in from Polly Drummond Road. This is a trip or crash hazard, and should be replaced with a removable bollard(s) or partial gate with clear bike-ped access, e.g. along Creek Rd.
  • Tell DelDOT to replace the unsightly concrete barriers on Creek Road at the Pomeroy Trail bridge curve with something more aesthetically pleasing. These are an eyesore and detract from the park's otherwise beautiful scenery.
  • With the advent of "Gravel" bikes and wider trail riding, park trails and pathways should be sub-grouped into the following categories, and mapped as such, e.g. 1. PAVED  2. GRAVEL  3. MTB
  • The Tri-Valley SUP is very overgrown between 9 foot Rd and its southern terminus at Thompson Station/SR72, and is reduced to about 2/3 width. This is hazardous for bi-directional bike-ped traffic. Please perform maintenance, including mowing and edging. At 8', this is the min recommended width for such a facility according to FHWA.
  • Improve safety for the bike-ped crossing between Creek Rd (gravel section) and Tweeds Mill (nature center). A large-sized MUTCD-approved R1-5 in each direction would be a big improvement. As it stands now, most motorists continue through the marked crosswalk, even with people standing there waiting.
  • Connect via SUP the Carpenter Area with the Pomeroy Trail, and that with the Possum Hill and Middle Run Areas.
  • Continue working on a WCCSP-Fair Hill connection via SUP, if that is still being considered.
Thank you so much for listening. Please let us know if there is a way to track our comments, to verify whether or not they are being considered.

--Frank Warnock & Angela Connolly

Above: A hanging cable blocks the entrance to Judge Morris Estate at White Clay Creek State Park. Bollard(s) should always be used where foot & pedal traffic is permitted. Users -- especially the disabled -- should not have to lift their bikes, step over, or cycle around a lengthy stone wall to access the Estate.