Carper tours flood-prone roads statewide

Federal bill aims to bring transportation funding to Delaware
September 10, 2019

As the lowest-lying state in the country, Delaware’s roadways and bridges are at high risk for flooding.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, is trying to secure federal funding to reinforce and upgrade Delaware’s vulnerable infrastructure. He visited four flood-prone locations Aug. 26, including the New Road bridge in Lewes and Chief Road in Oak Orchard.

Projects to improve the conditions at all four stops could be eligible for funds under the proposed America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, a bipartisan $287 billion bill that includes nearly $5 billion over five years to enhance resiliency of roadways to extreme weather.

At the New Road bridge in Lewes, Carper and Delaware Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Shante Hastings said coastal storms often make the bridge impassable. As sea level continues to rise, the bridge will also see sunny day flooding. 

Hastings said a project to raise the bridge is planned for 2024. But before that can happen, she said, DelDOT must first complete a project to realign Old Orchard Road, northwest of the bridge.

In Oak Orchard, DelDOT South District Maintenance Engineer Jason McCluskey said the wind is a major contributing factor in flooding. Flooding along Chief Road is of particular concern for area residents, he said.

Carper also visited the Army Creek Bridge in New Castle and Port Mahon in Dover.

Of the $5 billion to enhance roadway resiliency, $3.93 billion will be distributed to states by formula. Another $1 billion will be available through a competitive grant program that supports projects that reinforce, upgrade or realign existing infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather.

“Beyond climate change, the bill does so much more to make the road and bridge upgrades needed to boost safety and help America compete in the 21st century economy,” Carper said. “I’m excited to get back to Washington next month to keep pushing this bill towards the finish line.”

The bill has bipartisan support, including the support of the president.

The bill also includes $3 billion over the next five years for projects to lowering carbon emissions. This new program creates incentives to reduce emissions by providing greater project flexibility to states and cities that develop carbon emission reduction plans. It also provides an additional $500 million in performance awards to states and cities that successfully reduce emissions.

To support the growing market for electric and alternative fuel vehicles, the bill provides $1 billion in competitive grants for states and municipalities to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as hydrogen and natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated highway corridors.

The bill earmarks more than $1 billion to Delaware for surface infrastructure improvements. It breaks down to $15.53 million to protect roads, highways and bridges from natural disasters and extreme weather events; $27.64 million to build more bike lanes and sidewalks; $11.85 million for projects lowering carbon emissions; and $67.14 million to improve safety and reduce fatalities.