DART First State reports that ground will be broken this fall for a transit center as the controversy continues to swirl around the Rodney Square bus hub in downtown Wilmington.
A community coalition continues to press for the hub, which was largely dismantled in December. The state-owned transit agency made the announcement last month as activists continued to make their views known during 2018 with demonstrations at newly built projects in downtown.
DART also announced investments in bus shelters and other facilities. Some riders claim their new stops are not covered place a hardship on older riders who may have to walk several blocks for a connecting bus.
DART stated that the Wilmington Transit Center near the Joseph R. Biden Jr. Train Station is set to open next year, The center will feature customer amenities including an indoor, seated waiting area, access to restrooms, USB charging stations, Wi-Fi, and vending machines.
DART is replacing shelters on King Street. In addition, shelters will be installed on South Market at South Shipley, the old B&O railroad building, and North French at 9thStreet. The cost is$116,000, and DTC also has another $300,000 in city bus stop improvements planned for this fiscal year.
Over the past eight months, DART spent $120,000 in passenger facility improvements within the city.
In addition, DTC has secured a $2.45 million federal grant for improvements along Orange Street, including the plan to convert the current one-way, northbound street into a two-way street by adding a southbound bus lane from 10thto 4thStreets.
The program would feature ADA-compliant bus stops and pedestrian access with new bus shelters and amenities.
“Following recent bus route changes in downtown Wilmington, we heard and listened to concerns about the need for additional benches and shelters for our riders, and that’s the reason we are making these important investments,” stated Gov. John Carney. “We believe that affordable public transit and transportation infrastructure improvements are key to investing in our city and Wilmington’s downtown area. Over the next several years, we will invest $250 million in transportation improvements in and around the city.”
Carney has taken heat over a decision to remove the hub, due to alleged pressure from business interests that viewed the congested hub as a problem in efforts to retain companies such as Chemours.
The hub had grownover the years as DART expanded service to suburban areas.