Delaware is raising weekend tolls on Route 1 by a dollar to generate revenue for road projects. This move is expected to generate approximately $10 million annually, the majority of which will go towards restoring proposed cuts to the Community Transportation Fund accounts. Localities can apply to their lawmakers to have projects financed through this fund. In addition, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) will borrow another $20 million that will be earmarked solely for paving projects.
In January, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) and Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt introduced a plan to increase the gasoline tax by 10-cents-per- gallon and borrow an additional $50 million per year, a move that would have generated $100 million annually to pay for new infrastructure improvement projects. With weak state revenues and a looming election, the two were unable to find any House lawmakers willing to introduce the plan.
While Bhatt has the authority to raise tolls without authorization from the General Assembly, in a show of multilateral support the capital budget committee voted 11-1 in favor of the toll hike and borrowing plan. Bhatt has stated that he plans to continue lobbying for a tax or fee increase in 2015.
The total transportation capital budget now stands at $158 million, though only $128 million of that amount is available for new construction due to earmarks. Delaware’s motor fuels tax has not been raised since 1995, and the gasoline tax currently stands at 23-cents-per-gallon.