DelDOT would raise an estimated $30 million in new funding starting in fiscal year 2015 under a plan authorized June 19 by the Bond Bill Committee of the Delaware General Assembly.
The authorization, which was explained to the committee prior to a vote to approve DelDOT’s budget, acknowledged DelDOT’s existing authority to increase by $1 the tolls charged on weekends at the Biddles and Dover toll plazas on the mainline of Del. Route 1. The toll is currently $2 per passenger vehicle on weekends. The tolls charged at on and off ramps to Delaware 1 would remain unchanged.
The committee further authorized DelDOT to leverage the new toll revenue − estimated to bring in up to $10 million annually − against $20 million in new borrowing. The added funding would be dedicated to the Municipal Street Aide Program ($2 million) and DelDOT's paving program (approximately $28 million). Separately, the Community Transportation Fund would receive an additional $8.375 million from DelDOT's prior year authorization.
Under state law, DelDOT has the ability to raise tolls on its own authority. Today’s discussion and vote by the Bond Bill Committee made clear that DelDOT would not be acting unilaterally or without the appropriate consultation with the State legislature.
DelDOT’s total capital projects budget will increase to approximately $158 million under the language adopted by the Bond Bill Committee, as contrasted to the $228 million DelDOT had requested under Governor Markell’s FY2015 budget. The $228 million capital projects budget would have been funded through an increase of 10 cents per gallon in the state motor fuels tax and $50 million per year in new borrowing.
DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt said that while he remains opposed in principal to increasing his agency’s indebtedness without a full matching offset in new revenue, borrowing $20 million and raising the tolls on Del. Route 1 will create more employment for those who maintain the state’s infrastructure and keep DelDOT’s debt trajectory on a downward path.