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Politics & Government

Transportation, affordable housing projects considered by Bond Bill committee

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Tom Byrne
/
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers are on a break for the week while the Bond Bill committee hears about state capital projects across the state.

 

The Department of Transportation is looking for over $320 million in funds for the I-95 rehabilitation project, other road repairs, and road safety.

 

Out of that $320 million, around $195 million would go towards road systems, $42 million for public transit, $34 million for grants and $50 million for support systems.

 

But much of the conversation centered around the Community Transportation Fund. Lawmakers get hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to spend on transportation related projects in their communities.

 

The department launched a pilot program back in 2019 allowing DelDOT to repair neighborhood roads based on their quality ratings. 

 

Some lawmakers are looking to shift CTF funds to the pilot program, to emphasize fixing roads.  Majeski agress the pilot program is more efficient.

 

“It would be very costly for you all to try to pay for those that are in that very poor condition because in most cases you’re looking at a reconstruction of the road which costs a lot of money — and so it does make sense for the department to tackle those,” she said.

 

Majeski adds bundling those projects together would also save lots of money. When lawmakers use their CTF funds to fix roads, they might have to do those repairs over three years. But DelDOT has been emphasizing fixing longer stretches of road at once.

 

The pilot program has received $5 million ever since since its inception, and the governor is once again asking for another $5 million.

 

Lawmakers also heard from the Delaware State Housing Authority. It’s seeking over $15 million for three different projects.

 

Director Anas Ben Addi says he wants $4 million for the Strong Neighborhoods Housing Fund, which clears and rehabs abandoned or blighted homes across the state.

 

But he adds there’s talk of additional funds from the federal government, and suggests the state contribute even more than $4 million.

 

“I think we gotta go big if we’re gonna transform some of these neighborhoods,” Ben Addi said. “I think we’re doing a decent job at the block level but we’re not seeing that big transformation that’s needed.”

 

Ben Addi says vacant properties are bad for neighborhoods and bad for attracting businesses.

 

His department is also seeking $5.5 million for the state’s Downtown Development Districts program, which uses state funds to leverage private investment in many Delaware cities — and Ben Addi says has been very successful.

 

Another $6 million would go toward the state’s Affordable Rental Housing Program, which provides state financing to developers to build affordable rentals.

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