Carper Successfully gets Senate to Consider Key Delaware Projects

Army Corps of Engineers would assume ownership of SR1 Bridge St. Georges Bridge would remain open Federal Government would pay 20 percent of DRBC’s annual budget

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2004) – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), of which Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., is a member, approved legislation, at his request, that directs the Army Corps of Engineers to accept ownership of the SR1 Bridge, keep open the St. Georges Bridge, and direct the federal government to pay its share of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) annual budget. The Water Resources Development Act of 2004, also known as WRDA, authorizes Army Corps of Engineers construction projects. Senator Carper played a critical role in shaping WRDA and securing the provisions mentioned above in the bill. In 1990, Congress authorized construction of the SR1 Bridge over the federally owned Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Completed in May, 1997, the bridge was necessary to meet the federal obligation to provide ‘good and sufficient crossings’ over the waterway. Ownership of the SR1 Bridge, and the fate of the nearby St. Georges Bridge, have been in dispute ever since. The legislation approved today includes language directing the Army Corps of Engineers to finally assume ownership of the SR1 Bridge over the C&D Canal—retroactive to May, 1997. WRDA 2004 would also prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers from closing or taking down the St. Georges Bridge without specific congressional authorization. Furthermore, WRDA would direct the federal government to pay its share of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s annual budget. The federal government, which has not chipped in since 1996, will put forth 20 percent of the Commission’s annual budget. The DRBC oversees water usage and allocations in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. Carper praised the legislation as a big step forward for Delaware and vowed to fight for the state’s needs as the bill moves through the legislative process. “The responsibility of the federal government to Delaware is clear. Whether it is to bridge the C&D Canal or to pay its share of the DRBC’s budget, the feds must be willing to fulfill their obligations,” said Senator Carper. “I am pleased my committee has included these high priority projects that will benefit Delaware tremendously, and I will continue to work hard to see that these important Delaware projects are retained as this bill moves forward to become law.” The legislation is scheduled to see floor action in the Senate later this summer.