9:08 a.m., Oct. 18, 2010----The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced the award of $2.25 million in planning grant funds to address transportation needs surrounding the redevelopment of the former Chrysler assembly plant in Newark.
A consortium of state, academic and private agencies joined together to apply for funding under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II grant program.
The TIGER II funds will be used to develop a preliminary plan for transit-oriented services in and around the Newark Rail Station. The plan will focus on transportation solutions to support economic development, accessible housing and multi-modal transportation choices for the area surrounding the former Chrysler site, now owned by the University of Delaware.
“This is terrific news for transportation. Rail infrastructure is critical and this is a major project that supports Delaware,” said Gov. Jack Markell. “The grant gets us closer to creating the kind of transportation hub that our University and the Newark region needs and wants. We will need more mobility options for people as the University transforms the former Chrysler site and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) redevelopment occurs in nearby Aberdeen.”
The focal point of a regional transportation center plan is the Newark Rail Station, which is located along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line. The rail station supports Amtrak and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) passenger rail service and is adjacent to freight rail using the NEC.
Using a transit-oriented design, plans will explore development of a more accessible rail station compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, elimination of safety hazards for riders, and improved connections to fixed route transit services. It will also look to eliminate conflicts between freight and passenger rail systems, thereby improving rail service time.
The consortium of agencies that partnered to apply for the grant included the Delaware Department of Transportation, University of Delaware, Delaware Transit Corporation, New Castle County, city of Newark, Delaware Economic Development Office and Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation.
The grant was prepared by the Wilmington Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WILMAPCO). The grant received support from U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), U.S. Sen. Edward E. Kaufman (D-Del.) and U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.).
“This was a very competitive process, but the U.S. Department of Transportation clearly saw what we did -- a project with great potential that would benefit from this funding and in turn help the entire community,” Carper said. “This grant will lead to safer, and additional intercity and commuter rail service, and provide infrastructure for transit-oriented development. This is one of the many ways that our state can help reduce harmful air pollutants, reduce vehicle congestion on our roads, and encourage healthier lifestyles. This is a project I have supported for years; today's announcement is a testament of how working together, we can get things done the Delaware way.”
"This grant assists the University of Delaware in moving one step closer in redeveloping this site into a science and technology campus that will support future economic growth for the state and region through business, government and university partnerships," said David Brond, UD vice president for communications and marketing.
County Executive Chris Coons cited the importance of the Newark Train Station as a transportation hub for the growing number of commuters along the northeast corridor. "This Tiger II grant funding could not have come at a better time as New Castle County prepares for an influx of BRAC related technology companies and workers relocating to our region,” Coons said.
The TIGER II program is a national, competitive grant program, totaling $600 million and dedicated to both planning and construction of major highway, rail, transit, and port improvements across the country. It is similar to the TIGER I grant program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), although funded through the federal 2010 appropriations bill.
The Newark Train Station is located 47 miles south of Philadelphia and 105 miles north of Washington, D.C., on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line. The station sits just west of South College Avenue (Route 896), in close proximity to residential neighborhoods, University of Delaware facilities, and the downtown/historic district of the city of Newark.
In addition to Amtrak service, Newark is served by SEPTA commuter rail to Philadelphia and there are plans for expansion of Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) commuter trains to Newark by 2015.