Ceremonial start of major Delaware highway project [video]

 This construction map shows the northern portion of the new 301 (pink, green and blue) connecting to Rt. 1. (DelDOT photo)

This construction map shows the northern portion of the new 301 (pink, green and blue) connecting to Rt. 1. (DelDOT photo)

State leaders dug a shovelful or two of dirt to celebrate the start of work on the new Rt. 301 highway project.

The U.S. Rt. 301 Mainline, as the project is called, will include a new four lane, tolled highway from the Maryland/Delaware state line to Delaware Rt. 1 near the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. “It will address safety on a roadway that saw far too many crashes,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan. “A new U.S. 301 will reduce traffic by at least 20 percent on more than half of our local roadways.”

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The work has been divided into seven phases which are being awarded separately but will be constructed simultaneously. Four of the phases have been awarded at a cost of $470 million. The entire project is expected to cost $650 million.

While the idea for a new 301 has been kicked around in state planning offices for more than a decade, the state was finally able to secure funding for the project this year. That was accomplished in part through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act approved in Congress. “This TIFIA financing was the lynch pin that helped make this project a reality,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware.

DelDOT estimates that the construction project will employ 5,200 workers in the construction field, plus about 2,400 jobs in supporting industries.

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