Delaware transportation budget postpones projects

By Michelle Provencher 9:07am, February 26, 2013 - Updated 10:18pm, February 26, 2013
DelDOT may find $46 million missing from their budget for capital improvements.

Transportation officials presented a plan to lawmakers to postpone different projects -- including 15 safety-related upgrades -- in an effort to curb their $1.08 billion debt load.

State Rep. Helene Keeley says rather than delaying progress, the state should take advantage of the historically low interest rates.

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"Are we cutting off our nose despite our face? With interest rates so low. By no means do I want to tack on debt, but sometimes you have to look at the picture and say, 'Jeez, these five projects out of 20 are really important to Delaware's infrastructure and with the low interest rates. Maybe we take these top five and move forward,'" Kelley said.

Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt says he understands where Keeley is coming from, but this debt has to be addressed NOW.

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"We're trying to come up with a balanced approach to this. Look, we're going to still have $164 million program, we're going to fund a lot of great projects across the state, but we need this time to prioritize putting DelDOT back on a fiscally sound footing," Bhatt said.

Various improvements could be delayed a few months or as much as a few years.

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