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Three state transportation projects aimed at reconnecting communities get federal grants

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

$2 million will fund continued planning for a 12-acre cap over I-95 in Wilmington that would reconnect the two sides of the city divided when the road was built in the 1960s .

A feasibility study was completed by WILMAPCO.

WILMAPCO principal planner Dave Gula says they worked closely with the community for a year, where they spoke to residents, gauged interest, and gathered ideas on what they would like to see.

“This may not be the most important thing you could possibly spend money on, there are other infrastructure upgrades that have to happen in the world and we get that,” said Gula. “But if you live adjacent to I-95 and the canyon that it is and the amount of noise that you get from it and the pollution that comes off of it… this is a really wonderful opportunity for those folks. And that’s what we heard.”

He says the $2 million in funding is a great sign the project could become reality.

It’s now in the hands of DelDOT, whose engineers will use the grant to develop a plan for the actual physical structure over I-95.

The other two grants will fund feasibility studies in Georgetown and Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood - both focused on reducing hazards and increasing resident safety.

Georgetown is getting $100,000. The town is divided by a rail line, with multiple intersections pedestrians must cross.

“There’s not really any barrier or designated areas for residents to cross in those areas. And what happens is you just have people who are on foot crossing wherever they’d like. And obviously that could create very dangerous situations,” said DelDOT’s C.R. McLeod.

The rail line divides two neighborhoods, Kimmeytown, which is a majority-Hispanic neighborhood, and Harlemtown, a historically Black neighborhood, from downtown Georgetown.

Meaning in order to reach the majority of walkable businesses and activities in the area, those residents must cross the tracks.

McLeod says the grant will help Georgetown identify potential solutions to the safety issues caused by the rail crossings, focusing on eight intersections.

$240,000 will pay for a feasibility study in Wilmington’s Southbridge neighborhood - examining potential road connections that would allow traffic to move around the neighborhood instead of through it.

“Right now there is a growing amount of truck traffic using roads throughout Southbridge to navigate to the Port or other destinations,” said McLeod. “And it’s a safety hazard and a health hazard. Having diesel trucks and a high amount of emissions going out in those areas is just not good for the people who live there.”

It’s estimated that more than 400 trucks pass through Southbridge every day.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, and graduated from the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021.