With help from Governor Jack Markell, Delaware’s US Senators and members of the State General Assembly, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) broke ground on the SR 1 Little Heaven Grade Separated Intersection project on Monday, November 9. DelDOT also unveiled a slogan that will begin appearing on signs at numerous transportation projects made possible in part by a $330 million increase in Transportation Trust Fund revenue over the next six years. The funds were requested by the Governor and approved during the 2015 legislative session.
Governor Markell and Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan were joined by US Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, Speaker of the Delaware State House Pete Schwartzkopf and State Representative Quinn Johnson, who co-chairs the Legislature’s joint Capital Improvement Committee. The group all took up shovels to mark the symbolic start of this long anticipated project.
The new overpass will remove the current intersection and traffic signal at Route 1 and Bowers Beach Road to improve safety and traffic flow on the Route 1 corridor. In its current configuration, the intersection causes lengthy backups on Route 1 during summertime beach traffic while turning traffic is at risk of side-impact crashes. When complete, Route 1 will cross over Bowers Beach Road allowing traffic to continue north and south without stopping while pedestrian and local traffic is maintained on the new ramps and service roads.
“Nothing is more important than the safety of Delawareans,” said Governor Jack Markell. “That is why projects such as the Little Heaven Grade Separated Intersection are so important. Now, thanks to a package of revenue increases and borrowing approved by the Delaware General Assembly in June, DelDOT will be able to move forward with almost 100 transportation improvement projects over the next six years. Those projects will make Delaware roads safer and more efficient for all users.”
“For the thousands of people who travel up and down Route 1 to get to the beaches, work, school, or wherever they may be travelling, this project will eliminate congestion and increase safety,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “Projects like these – that create jobs and make our highways safer and more efficient – are a reminder of why Congress needs to pass a long-term highway bill.”
“This isn’t just about tourists,” said Rep. Peterman, in whose district the project is located. “It will greatly improve traffic flow in and out of Bowers Beach, will eliminate a major traffic headache for local residents, and make that intersection a lot safer for everyone.”
In June, the Delaware General Assembly approved a funding package that increases funding for the Transportation Trust Fund by $55,300,000 per year. That package raises $23,900,000 by increasing various Division of Motor Vehicles fees, $1.4 million by increasing the price of oversize / weight load permits, $5 million by transferring DelDOT operating expenses from the state’s General Fund, and $25 million per year by borrowing. Altogether, the funding package will raise $330 million over the next six years. That funding will allow DelDOT to move forward with dozens of new or previously postponed road projects statewide.
“I want to thank my fellow members of the General Assembly who voted this year to invest in projects like this one up and down the state,” said Rep. Quinn Johnson, co-chair of the Legislature’s joint Capital Improvement Committee. “Every dollar we spend on our roads, bridges and highways generates three dollars in economic output, and that’s too good a deal for Delaware to pass up.”
Today, DelDOT also invited state officials to help unveil a new slogan to celebrate the upcoming work to make Delaware’s roadways safer and more efficient. The slogan, “Making strides to improve your ride,” will be displayed at DelDOT worksites throughout the state.
“Our new slogan will be on display at Little Heaven and at the sites of many other projects throughout the state,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan. “We want our customers, the residents of Delaware and our guests, to understand that, although road projects might cause short-term delays, we are working for the long-term safety and efficiency of the state’s transportation network. We are ‘Making strides to improve your ride.’”
The Little Heaven project will construct service roads to the east and west of Route 1 and then construct a Route 1 bridge over Bowers Beach Road. Route 1 traffic will use the new service roads to travel north and south until the new Route 1 bridge is completed and opened. When the project is completed, ramps will allow traffic to exit and enter Route 1 northbound and southbound. A-Del Construction, Inc., of Newark, is expected to complete the $40 million contract in three years. For more information about the SR 1 Little Heaven Project and other SR 1 projects, individuals are encouraged to visit http://www.deldot.gov/information/projects/sr1/.