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DelDOT highlights the future of transportation funding

Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers heard from one of Delaware’s largest state agencies Wednesday, the Department of Transportation.

DelDOT secretary Nicole Majeski highlights areas the department is focusing on into the future, where issues could arise later. One of those areas is public transit ridership, which Majeski says continues to perform far lower than pre-pandemic.

The department has been running a pilot program in Sussex country called DART Connect, which provides on-demand bus service in select cities.

“We’re hoping that we’re gonna have other grant opportunities like that to be able to expand this program and to be able to provide this service,” Majeski says. “It’s also — there’s a cost savings as well because we’re not having to drive a regular standard bus in there. And so we’re able to deploy those resources elsewhere; so there is that savings.”

Lawmakers also wonder about the future of road maintenance funding. State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) is concerned about the rising popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, which pay little, if anything, towards the state’s motor fuel tax.

Secretary Nicole Majeski says that’s one area Delaware and other states are looking into now.

“What is the right method for these electric vehicles? Is a mileage-based user fee the right method for them or is some other sort of fee associated with that,” she says. “Because as you mentioned, they’re not contributing to the motor fuel tax but they are still contributing to the wear and tear of our infrastructure.”

DelDOT is researching this future of motorist fees through the Eastern Transportation Coalition, which launched amileage-based user fee pilot program back in 2018.

Majeski says incorporating electric vehicles into that pilot program is the next step in the process.

Overall, the department only seeks an additional $17 million towards it’s nearly $350 million operating budget, and much of that funding would go towards paying down debts the department owes on various bonds.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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