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Politics & Government

DelDOT gets a chunk of surplus funds for road repair, I-95 safety

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media

Major changes were made to DelDOT’s capital budget requests Tuesday.

 

Drivers heading on I-95 through Wilmington may need to slow down in the work zone.

 

DelDOT plans to install speed traps along the stretch.

 

DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski says the entire stretch has gotten much more dangerous since the project began.

 

“So we are about four months under construction; since that time we have seen 180 crashes in this work zone,” Majeski said. “We reduced the speed limit to 45 MPH, but we are seeing average speeds of about 67 MPH throughout the work zone.”

 

That’s why her department wants to install automated speed enforcement cameras in the work zone. She says this is a special, one time project, and drivers shouldn’t expect speed cameras to go up elsewhere.

 

Majeski adds once funding is secured through the Bond Bill, the cameras could be up in as little as 2 months, and stay there for the remainder of the I-95 project.

 

She says in the first month of operation, drivers would only receive a warning, if they speed through the construction zone.

 

Lawmakers in the Bond Bill committee unanimously approved the project, but State Sen. Colin Bonini (R-South Dover) says he’s concerned future DelDOT secretaries could see the cameras as a funding source if the budget tightens up.

 

The Committee is focused on figuring out where to allocate the state’s nearly billion dollar surplus in funds.

 

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek) says Delawareans are frustrated with crumbling roads throughout the state.

 

“We’re putting a really small band-aid on a very big wound and nine times out of ten we always agree to that — but this year we’re not at a $100 million surplus or a $200 million surplus, we’re at a billion dollar surplus; it’s their money, it’s their streets, it should be spent there,” Ramone said.

 

Lawmakers ended up doubling the amount of funding into DelDOT’s road repair pilot program, which allows the department to repair neighborhood roads based on their quality ratings. The program has received $5 million since its inception in 2019, and will now get $10 million this year alone.

 

Lawmakers themselves will also get a boost to their Community Transportation Fund allocations; that fund currently  gives each lawmaker around $325,000 to spend on transportation related projects.

 

Some lawmakers, including State Rep. Ed Osienski (D-Newark), raised concerns about increasing CTF funding.  They support the pilot program, which they say is more efficient, and sends all its money directly towards repairing roads.