Georgetown chamber luncheon spiced with DelDOT update

GEORGETOWN – Delaware’s Department of Transportation has a six-year plan for projects in the immediate future and those a bit further down the road.

It’s the Capital Transportation Program.

Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce president Angela Emerson welcomes guest speaker C.R. McLeod from DelDOT to the chamber’s July 26 luncheon.

“It’s really our playbook for the projects that we are going to be doing over the next six years,” said C.R. McLeod, DelDOT director of communications. “For Sussex County, for FY2017 through FY2023, we will be investing $837 million just in Sussex County. We know there is a lot of infrastructure needs down here. We’re committed to make the investments to improve the infrastructure to support this growing community. We are prioritizing projects and looking at how we can get these projects funded and done as quickly as possible.”

Mr. McLeod, special guest speaker at the July 26 Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce luncheon, was pinch-hitting for Department of Transportation Sec. Jennifer Cohan, who is undergoing rehab for injuries sustained in a recent accident.

Upgrades and improvements to main Sussex County arteries are among DelDOT’s priorities. The list includes SR 1 along the coast, RT. 9 linking Georgetown and Lewes, Rt. 24 and the Millsboro bypass project.

DelDOT’s mission, Mr. McLeod said, is to get the main arteries in the best shape and condition.

“The idea is that we are getting Rt. 1 back to what the original plan was, that it would be a limited access highway,” he said.

For roadways such as Rt. 9/Rt. 5 and Rt. 24, project plans are committed to easing some of the congestion issues that are occurring due to the development that is happening. “These were traditionally two-lane roadways and without much shoulder,” said Mr. McLeod.

Park Avenue realignment

Proposed extension of the main runway at Delaware Coastal Airport from 5,500 feet to 6,000 will require realignment of Park Avenue/Truck Rt. 9. The longer runway will accommodate larger aircraft and is viewed by county officials as a potential boost to the local economy and businesses.

“I believe it is five years,” said Mr. McLeod. “We’re still in planning phase and working with the county to ensure that we know exactly where these things are going to happen, and what the infrastructure around that will look like.”

Millsboro Bypass

This major project is in the planning phase. “We were able to get the land acquisition issues resolved and we are now moving into the planning and development phase,” said Mr. McLeod. “This is in our six-year transportation plan.”

Pedestrian/biking concerns

“We’re continuing to focus on pedestrian issues as well,” said Mr. McLeod. “Especially in eastern Sussex County over the past several years we’ve unfortunately had numerous incidents with bicyclists and pedestrians. We work closely with Sen. (Ernie) Lopez and our other legislators on how can we make investments and make the roadways safer for those who are choosing to walk and bike along our roadways. We’ve seen all these issues with bikers and cyclists getting into accidents.”

DelDOT is partnering with the Delaware Bike Council in efforts to better educate the public, notably visitors from foreign countries.

“One of the things that we learned was in the summertime, especially when we have a large number of Europeans come over and work … and are not familiar with safe bike use here in the United States. We’ve developed a program that we are actually using and working with local businesses to offer training courses to ensure that they are using their bikes safely while they are here in Delaware,” said Mr. McLeod.

Customer service

“Customer service continues to be a focus for us. One stat is recently saw that over the past four years in Sussex county alone we’ve added more than 40,000 vehicles just being registered here at the Georgetown DMV,” said Mr. McLeod. “We’re very proud that our DMV services continue to be innovative. One of the things we are going to be launching probably later this year or early 2018, is you will be able to renew your driver’s license online. You won’t even have to go into the DMV to do a driver’s license renewal.”

Funding lockbox

“What is really important to stress is that DelDOT is not funded by the state of Delaware’s general fund,” said Mr. McLeod. “All of our revenues come from transportation-dedicated sources. We get in FY18 nearly $318 million in federal funds for transportation. And our next biggest source of finding is DMV revenues with more than $216 million coming into our coffers to help support transportation projects. Again, thanks to Sen. Lopez and the guidance of other legislators we now have a lockbox on the Transportation Trust Fund. So, this money coming in; when you go to the DMV, when you pay tolls, when you buy gas, those funds are going back into transportation infrastructure. They are not being siphoned off to support other areas of the government. That is something that we really feel ensures that we have a dedicated revenue stream so we can plan our projects going forward.”

Long Range Transportation Plan

DelDOT has a long-range plan and public input is welcome and encouraged. “What should our priorities be? What should we be focusing on as we look ahead over the next 20 years? We want that feedback and input” Mr. McLeod said.

To participate in the public survey, visit deldot.gov.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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