Sussex, DelDOT collaboration encouraging
Sussex County Council recently approved an agreement with the Delaware Department of Transportation that will dramatically decrease time needed to complete selected transportation improvement projects. Appropriately dubbed FAST (Funding Accelerating Safety in Transportation) Track, the action is not coming a moment too soon.
Thousands of new residential lots have been approved by the county during 2020, and thousands more are already in the pipeline. This was made abundantly clear in a two-page special report compiled by Cape Gazette Senior Reporter Ron MacArthur in the newspaper’s Dec. 18 edition. Those thousands of pending residential units are in the Cape Region. Other communities are also popping up all over Sussex.
It’s expected that 2020 – despite or perhaps because of the coronavirus pandemic – will probably break records for building in Sussex. This is great news for the construction industry, but is further pressuring an already overburdened road system. DelDOT has over $1 billion worth of improvement projects slated in Sussex over the next several years. That number needs to be doubled if we’re going to even come close to having a system that not only catches up to where we are now, but meets the needs of projects on the books for completion over the next decade.
Sussex council is leveraging its double-digit increases in building-related revenues to fund the FAST Track agreement with DelDOT, which will ultimately reimburse the county for projects expedited with county funds. The first project to benefit from the agreement is a sorely needed $4.5 million improvement to the Cave Neck-Hudson-Sweetbriar roads intersection southeast of Milton. With the FAST funding, that project will begin early in 2021 rather than four years later.
This supplemental, piecemeal approach will unquestionably bring quicker relief to existing problems. It’s good to see Sussex and DelDOT putting their heads together creatively. In the meantime, our state legislators must keep pressuring DelDOT to fully accept the reality of the current boom and further increase its funding for Sussex projects.