On Friday, May 29, United States Senator Tom Carper visited the Thompsonville Road overpass project that is underway just north of Milford. Senator Carper was there to discuss a recent bill that he has proposed to Congress, along with Senator Barbara Boxer of California, that would extend surface transportation programs into July 2015. The program is currently set to expire on May 31, 2015.
“Roads and highways need to be built,” Senator Carper said. “Some of the roads and bridges in our country are in desperate need of repair, some are unsafe and some are simply unusable. We need to make improvements as the best way to improve our economy is through projects similar to the one here in Milford.”
According to Mark Possible of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the project at Thompsonville is a Grade Separated Intersection that will eliminate the traffic light on Route 1, eliminating a hazard and promoting the flow of traffic. In addition, several side roads, such as Tub Mill Pond Road and Keller Road, will be improved in order to provide better access to Route 1 and to improve the flow of traffic. The project is expected to be completed by Winter 2016.
“We expect highways to carry a certain capacity of traffic,” said Senator Carper. “An overpass increases that capacity significantly. In addition, it is much cheaper for state highway departments to build overpasses than it is to add an additional lane.”
Senator Carper said that retail businesses, healthcare organizations and many other industries rely on the country’s highways to get products and people where they are needed. According to Senator Carper, half the funds used for state highway projects is federal money and if the Highway Trust Fund is not extended, many of the projects planned will not come to fruition.
“Congress has kicked the can down the road and done a short-term patch, rather than make the hard but necessary choices to responsibly fund the Highway Trust Fund,” Senator Carper said. “When the federal government is an unreliable partner, we end up with stop and go projects. This project will continue even if the fund is not extended, but the state will have to borrow money to complete it and that is not fair to the state of Delaware.” Mr. Possible said that 90 percent of the funds used for the $11.5 million Thompsonville project were federal monies and that it would put a significant hardship on the state if they were required to borrow 90 percent of the funds to complete the project.
Senator Carper said that he did not understand his colleagues in Congress who did not see how necessary the Highway Trust Fund was for the country. He said that it was clear that a good transportation system was critical to a viable economy. According to Senator Carper, Congress has left states and cities without the necessary funding in order to plan and build large transportation projects.
“Our governors, mayors, citizens and businesses are counting on us to do better than we did last summer,” Senator Carper said. “I guess other people were raised differently than me. I was taught that things worth having were worth paying for. Pushing this issue closer to another election is a recipe for letting those that depend on us down again.”