I-95 toll plaza. www.ezpassde.com file photo

Some infrastructure cash to be spent on ‘capping’ 95 in Wilmington

Charles MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

I-95 toll plaza. www.ezpassde.com file photo

State and federal officials gathered near the I-95 rehabilitation project in Wilmington Tuesday to discuss the impact the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill will have on the first state. 

Delaware will receive $1.6 billion in funds from the federal infrastructure package.

DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski said it will be used to ensure that “our roads and bridges are safe and well maintained, our communities are better served and connected, that we are making the necessary investments for the electrification of our infrastructure, and resiliency due to climate change.”

Of the $1.6 billion headed to Delaware, approximately $1.2 billion will go to highway improvements, $225 million to bridge and railway replacements and the remaining $220 to public transportation improvements. 

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said that some of the funds will be used to support a federal-state partnership to “fix some of the more damaging historical legacy of I-95 that residents of the City of Wilmington still live with.”

One project being studied would cap a section of I-95 through Downtown Wilmington. Capping a highway means, essentially, putting a lid over a highway and developing green space, parks and more on top of the lids. 

Capping can reduce automobile sounds and smells, connect communities by allowing easy pedestrian and automobile access across highways, and create valuable real estate by taking advantage of the air space above highways. 

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper pointed to the infrastructure bill as the first ever to include funding for climate change mitigation. 

“We have a lot of vehicles around the country spewing up poison into the air and also a lot of carbon dioxide,” Carper said. “The level of carbon dioxide in our planet is higher than it’s ever been in the 300,000 years we’ve been keeping records.”

According to Carper’s office, the funds Delaware will receive from the legislation will go toward:

  • Repairing aging roads and bridges
    • Delaware has 19 bridges and more than 250 miles of highway in poor condition. As a result, the average driver pays $456 each year for driving on roads in need of repair. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest $1.2 billion in Delaware’s highways and $225 million in bridge replacement and repairs. These investments would focus on addressing climate change, enhancing equity, and improving safety for all Delawareans, including cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Building a network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers
    • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest $17.7 million to expand Delaware’s EV charging network. 
  • Improving public transportation
    • Delawareans who take public transportation spend an extra 87 percent of their time commuting. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest $220 million to improve public transportation options in the First State.
  • Connecting more Delawareans to high-speed internet
    • More than 1 in 10 households in Delaware don’t have an internet subscription. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will invest a minimum of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the First State. 1 in 5 Delawareans would be eligible for assistance to make internet access affordable.
  • Investing in safe, clean water
    • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide Delaware with critical resources to upgrade water systems, remove lead pipes, and clean up toxic chemicals like PFAS.

It’s still not clear specifically where the funds will be allocated or when, but targeted investments are likely to be announced in the coming months.

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