In a very early vote Tuesday morning, both the Delaware House and Senate voted unanimously to approve an FY15 capital budget bill (HB425) for the state of Delaware that includes a new and substantial $6.3 million commitment to cycling.
The $6.3 million commitment for cycling approved this morning includes $3.6 million for “Bike and Pedestrian Improvements” for the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and $2.7 million for “Statewide Trails and Pathways” for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
Among the DelDOT projects that are likely to move forward with this new state commitment are the final phase of the 7 mile Wilmington-New Castle Greenway, including a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Christina River (see image of the proposed bridge above).
A large part of the $2.7 million for the “Statewide Trails and Pathways” funding for DNREC will likely be used to build the Assawoman Canal Trail in Bethany Beach.
Both the Bike and Pedestrian Improvements and Statewide Trails and Pathways programs are initiatives of Delaware state government and both use discretionary funds that could be used for other purposes at the discretion of state government leadership. In addition to these two discretionary programs at DelDOT and DNREC, HB425 also includes authorization for two federally mandated programs, “Transportation Enhancements” (DelDOT) and “Safe Routes to School” (DelDOT), funded at $4.2 million and $0.9 million, respectively. 94% of the funding for Transportation Enhancements (“TE”) and Safe Routes to School (“SRTS”) programs will come from highly restricted federal funds that cannot be used for any other purpose.
While almost all TE and SRTS funding will be likely spent exclusively on sidewalks and ‘streetscaping,’ the additional $6.3 million in discretionary funding voted this morning will mostly be used for bikeways all over the state.
Two years ago, the Delaware General Assembly authorized over $13 million in new discretionary funding for these two same DelDOT and DNREC programs. While not as large a new commitment as 2012, this morning’s vote represents a substantial and serious ongoing commitment to cycling by state government leadership to make Delaware the most bicycle friendly state in America.
• House Bill 425 (2014)
• Walkable Bikeable Delaware (2011)