Tolls, trucks and $1.2 million

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Hello everyone,

Word that Delaware agreed to spend $1.2 million to help repair damage to Cecil County, MD roads drew a spirited response.

The Delaware Department of Transportation, its counterpart in Maryland, and Cecil County have wresting with a surge of traffic from motorists seeking to avoid Route 301 tolls.

Traffic has grown in the once quiet Warwick and Cecilton areas, with big trucks taking a toll on rural roads and streets.

The payment from the Delaware Department of Transportation is part of an effort that includes signage, stepped-up enforcement and eventually cameras that will catch big rigs evading tolls.

It was no surprise that paying for another state’s roadwork bothered some social media commenters. A couple of people demanded the resignation of Delaware Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

Both Maryland and Delaware should have been working more closely prior to the opening of the toll route that bypasses Middletown and moves through traffic to Route 1.

Paying $4 to $5 for a one-way toll ($11 to $15 for tractor-trailers) is leading drivers to seek other routes, even with a 50 percent discount for motorists making 30 trips in as many days. Abandoning tolls or deeper discounts isn’t an option since the revenue is needed to pay down bonds.

The current situation comes after decades of delays and inaction in building a 301 bypass. Growth in Middletown and worsening congestion forced the issue and the only option came with hefty tolls. Meanwhile, apps available on nearly every mobile device aid motorists in navigating toll-free routes.

The one ray of hope may be hints that toll revenues are said to be running ahead of estimates. If that trend continues, a tweak here and there might help. Still, the days of light traffic in Warwick and Cecilton may be gone forever.

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