DelDOT asking for public input on plan

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), along with the citizen-member Council on Transportation (COT), the Dover/Kent Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the Wilmington Area Planning Council (WILMAPCO) and Sussex County held three 6-year Capital Transportation Program (CTP) hearings recently the first on Thursday, Sept. 11, in Georgetown.

The hearings provided the public with an opportunity to study the current CTP and a chance to make suggestions about projects or services to be considered for the proposed CTP for the 2010-2015 fiscal years.

The public learned of current and proposed projects and transportation challenges, such as the cost of construction, the increased demand due to growth and decreasing revenues coupled with increasing costs. Public Relations Director Darrel Cole said that because of tight budgets, many parts of the CTP have to be prioritized.

“We are fiscally constrained,” said Cole. Many people don’t realize that the bus system is part of the CTP, part of the capital program and it’s not a money-maker. But we are working to expand it and improve it, all that has to be thrown into the pot.”

He also mentioned “hidden gems” such as the Transportation Enhancement Program and the Delaware Safe Routes to School Program.

“Here, we have money available. We just have to get them to apply for it. People don’t know it’s out there. One of our challenges has been how to market this to schools,” explained Cole.

The Delaware Safe Routes to School program is a funded program to promote and improve the safety of walking and biking to elementary and middle schools through “evaluation, education, encouragement, enforcement and engineering.” It is a program administered by DelDOT, but has a local-, school- and community-based initiative. DelDOT provides up to $10,000 to assist in preparing the plan and up to $125,000 for each project.

Cole also explained that, because of budgetary restrictions, certain parts of the planning process have to be prioritized. He explained that with the budget crunch, many projects can be financed through the design and right-of-way stages as a priority, but waiting for construction money might have to be a possibility.

“It can take years to get design and right-of-way,” explained Cole. “Construction is the easy part. But you can’t magically get design and right-of-way. You have to get them first.”

He explained that the focus of the CTP is safety and that their core business is keeping up with the buses and snow plows and maintaining the roads so they don’t need the major overhauls that take years of planning and millions of dollars. There are no new projects in the pipeline for the area in the 2010-2015 fiscal years, he noted.

As of now, the department is finishing construction plans on Route 26 detour routes for the planned SR26/Atlantic Avenue Mainline Project. Those roads include Burbage Road from Route 17 to Windmill Road; Windmill Road from Route 26 to Central Avenue; Central Avenue from Windmill Road to Beaver Dam Road; and Beaver Dam Road from Central Avenue to Muddy Neck Road. Cole said that is a fully-funded project. Improvements made to these roads will allow for them to be fully operational as alternative routes once the Route 26 Mainline Project is started.

The Route 26 roadway improvements, planned for the 4 miles between St. George’s Church in Clarksville and the Assawoman Canal, is now expected to begin in 2011 and conclude in 2014, according to the DelDOT’s current schedule, with work slated to be completed in one-mile sections. That project is still pending funding availability.

For more information on DelDOT projects and the 6-year Capital Transportation Plan, including information on the Delaware Safe Routes to School Program, visit online.