(July 31, 2019 by Mark Fowser, WDEL) Get ready for more road construction in Delaware. Before you complain about it, this sort of construction is tied to job growth and business expansion. A newly-created fund will allow employers that are considering expansion plans or relocating to The First State to make road infrastructure improvements.
Typical road improvement projects are often months, sometimes years, in the making. Businesses, however, may want to move fast.
"We want to make sure we get good paying jobs in Delaware, and we don't want a process or a procedure to hold that up," Delaware Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan said Wednesday at the Wilmington Riverfront, with the newly-built Christina River Bridge in the background. That's where Governor John Carney signed a bill (Senate Bill 61) into law to create the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund. It has an initial investment of $10 million in the current Fiscal Year '20 budget.
"We recognize that sometimes business can move, and should move, quicker than government," State Senator Stephanie Hansen (D- Middletown) said. She added that the TIIF "meets the needs of businesses looking to bring jobs to Delaware in a way that balances the interests of all parties."
Applications for grants will be considered by a nine-member Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund Council. Funding recommendations would go to the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of State.
"Right now we've got a really strong and growing economy, but we're always competing with states around us to keep that economy strong and growing. This will give us a tool to enable us to do that," Carney said.
Will this result in more of Delaware being paved over? Perhaps the opposite, according to Hansen, a former member of New Castle County representing the fastest-growing part of the county.
"In the past, small hurdles in upgrading existing infrastructure near already developed areas forced new businesses to leapfrog out into green and undeveloped spaces - a practice that didn't suit anybody particularly well and which caused a lot of friction in our long-term planning process," Hansen said. "With this new tool, we can catalyze infrastructure improvements and smart development in the places where businesses want to be, attracting new jobs and building a better state for everyone along the way."
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