The truth about DelDOT funding for Sussex

August 13, 2013

I’m not sure where rumors start, but when they generate phone calls to representatives and senators, and letters to the editor, it is time to address them. The latest rumor is the perception that Sussex County does not get its fair share of road construction dollars; that we’re shunned in favor of “upstate.” I have even heard that Sussex County was only getting $1.2 million for road construction this year. That is definitely not true! Unfortunately, sometimes perception becomes reality as it is passed around from person to person. I want to set the record straight with facts so everyone knows exactly where we stand when it comes to funding for Sussex County road projects.

In fiscal 2013 (which just concluded on June 30), DelDOT spent $411.9 million (federal and state dollars) on road projects. Of that, $71 million (17 percent) was in Sussex, $207.7 million (51 percent) was in New Castle County and $36.4 million (9 percent) was spent in Kent County. Another $88.2 million (21 percent) was spent on statewide transportation projects. Broken down on a per-resident basis, we were right behind New Castle County in spending ($380 per person versus $374 per person). However, out of the state dollars we spent on transportation projects ($188 million), Sussex received 28 percent, or $45.7 million plus $7.1 million for paving projects.

For this fiscal year, DelDOT is budgeting $588.4 million, with $68 million earmarked for Sussex and another $225 million for statewide transportation projects. Look at some of the large projects that are on the schedule:

Route 1/Route 30 overpass

U.S. 113/Route 16 overpass

Route 1 pedestrian improvements from Rehoboth to Five Points

U.S. 13 intersection improvements in Seaford

U.S. 113 at Millsboro Towne Center

Indian River Inlet bridge improvements and park enhancements

Route 24 improvements

U.S. 9 and Route 5 intersection improvements

More than a dozen small bridge repairs/replacements

SR 26 improvements from Bethany to Clarksville

Plantation Road, Postal Lane and Cedar Grove Road realignment and signalization.

I think you can see that Sussex is getting its fair share of road construction dollars. This might still not seem like a lot to some, but all you have to do is look at some of the larger road projects that we were able to fund in eastern Sussex County and mostly in the 14th District in the last 10 years:

SR 54 - Over a two-year project where they actually elevated the roadway to alleviate flooding and re-engineered the roadway from Fenwick Island to Williamsville

Replaced the Indian River Inlet bridge and made enhancements to the Seashore State Park

Rehoboth Streetscape Project - re-engineered Rehoboth Avenue from the bridge to the Boardwalk and buried all of the utilities

A new concrete-based, mile-long Boardwalk in Rehoboth

S R 1 improvements - Created a third lane in both directions with a dedicated bus lane, redesigned the entrance into Rehoboth, improvements to SR 24 between SR 1 and Plantation Road

Installation of traffic signals on Plantation Road near Lowe’s and on Church Street  going into Rehoboth

Total reconstruction of SR 1 in the Forgotten Mile with sidewalks and shoulders.

Road construction dollars are not divvied up evenly by county. Those dollars are assigned based on road projects funded throughout our state.

For the past two years, the biggest road project in the state is the I95/Christiana exchange, which has a large price tag, so a larger percentage of the available money is going to New Castle County.

But, Sussex County is not being slighted. None of the projects listed above, both past and present, were cheap. They cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Sussex County has actually fared very well getting its fair share of road construction dollars during the past 10 years and we will continue to do so in the coming years.

Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf
D-Rehoboth Beach

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