State should trim waste before raising taxes

April 15, 2014

As just about anyone who lives in Delaware has heard, the Delaware Department of Transportation has a budget problem.

Politicians say it’s the result of using a transportation trust fund designed for infra­structure projects to instead pay operating costs. To catch up, Gov. Jack Markell is asking for a 10-cent-per-gallon increase in the state’s gas tax. Legislators from both parties say the tax is not likely to pass this year, because no one wants to go into the November elections having voted for it. Cape Region residents want road improvements.

Our roads are dan­gerously congested, and it’s not limited to the frequent accidents on Route 1. Still, it’s hard to convince people to pay higher taxes when we see wasteful spending all around us. The new “temporary tubular markers” at Postal Lane and Plantation Road spring quickly to mind.

Two of the eight plastic tubes have already been taken out by passing motorists. The cost of installing the markers is not high enough to widen any Cape Region roads, but this inter­section has been misaligned for years.

Why in­stall markers now when realignment is sched­uled to begin in the fall? If markers such as these really help, why hasn’t DelDOT repaired the green dividers that separate Route 1 and the service road at the entrance to Rehoboth Beach? So many are broken or missing it’s hard to imagine they ever could have served a purpose – to say nothing of the unsightly mess now greeting visitors to the Nation’s Summer Capital.

Or what about bicycle lanes on Savannah Road in Lewes? After testing the shoulders, DelDOT has decided the road can’t be widened enough to accommodate bicycle lanes on the city’s primary route to the beach.

How can it be that the road can carry cars and delivery trucks, but it can’t be widened enough to accommodate bicycles? And don’t remind us about expensive land purchases on Route 1, where a proposed bus facility has yet to be built, or last summer’s zombie campaign to convince pedestrians to use crosswalks.

To be fair, DelDOT has dramatically reduced debt and is operating more efficiently than in any administration in recent memory. But be­fore taxpayers are asked to pay higher taxes, the agency must demonstrate it is cutting ev­ery unnecessary expense and now has a laser focus on transparently accomplishing its most critical functions.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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