SENATE SUBSTITUTE NO. 1
SENATE BILL NO. 321
AN ACT OF THE 135TH DELAWARE GENERAL ASSEMBLY REQUESTING THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO PROVIDE FOR THE TIMELY CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE OF A NEW BRIDGE OVER THE CHESAPEAKE AND DELAWARE CANAL IN THE VICINITY OF ST. GEORGES, AS PART OF THE U.S. ROUTE 13 RELIEF ROUTE, IN KEEPING WITH ITS OBLIGATIONS TO THE STATE OF DELAWARE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Legislative Findings and Determinations.
(a) The General Assembly finds that:
(1) The Chesapeake and Delaware Canal cuts the State of Delaware and the
Delmarva Peninsula into two parts, eliminating overland access to the major metropolitan areas of the East Coast.
(2) In recognition of the effect of the canal on the State's economy, the Act of Incorporation of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, enacted into law at 3 Delaware Laws, Chapter 78, provided in Section 16 of said Act that "Whenever said canal shall cross any public road, it shall be the duty of said company, at the proper expense of the same, to make and keep good and sufficient bridges across the said canal, so as to prevent any inconvenience, in the usage of said road or roads by reason of said canal crossing the same, and that it shall be lawful for the Legislature of this State, at all times hereafter, to enact laws for the erecting and maintaining bridges across the said canal, at the expense of the said company, and to subject the said company to forfeitures, pains and penalties for not complying with such laws."
(3) By an Act dated March 26, 1909, appearing at 25 Delaware Laws, Chapter 165, the General Assembly approved in advance the acquisition of the property, rights of property, franchises, and appurtenances of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company by the United States of America. This approval did not in any way eliminate the obligation contained within Section 16 of the corporate franchise to build and maintain sufficient bridges over the Canal.
(4) The River and Harbors Act of 2 March 1919, Public Law No. 323, authorized the acquisition by condemnation by the United States of the Company's Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and "all the property, rights of property, franchises, and appurtenances used or acquired in connection therewith. . . " By such acquisition the United States assumed the Company's obligations, including the obligation to make and keep good and sufficient bridges over the canal. In connection with the acquisition, Congress expressly provided that "all land traffic, both highway and rail, to and from the Delmarvia (sic) Peninsula" crossing the canal "could not be broken". The condemnation was- carried out in 1919, and the United States of America has since owned, operated, maintained, and improved the Canal and the highway bridges crossing it.
(5) In keeping with the obligations it assumed, the Federal Government built new bridges over the canal at Reedy Point, Summit, and St. Georges, including the addition of new lanes for highway traffic at Summit and St. Georges. The accepted understanding by the United States of its obligations is illustrated by a written statement of July 6, 1939, by then-Secretary of War, Harry H. Woodring: The United States is obligated to maintain reasonably adequate highway crossings over the canal". Accordingly, when new lanes of highway crossings are needed, the United States is obligated to provide them.
(6) United States Route 13 crosses the canal at St. Georges. The existing bridge for Route 13 at St. Georges is the most important bridge over the canal in Delaware, carrying 60% or more of the north-south traffic from the Delmarva Peninsula to major eastern cities.
(7) As reflected, inter alia, in recent bond bills passed by the General Assembly, the State has determined that a relief route is necessary to carry the increased traffic now overburdening U. S. Route 13. This relief route, as planned by the State and approved by the Federal Highway Administration, includes a new crossing over the canal in the vicinity of the existing crossing at St. Georges, Delaware. Construction of aspects of this route began In 1989, with the State eventually projected to Incur over $400 million in construction costs, financed from the State's Transportation Trust Fund, over and above the construction costs of the new crossing over the canal.
(8) The Delaware Department of Transportation estimates that rising annual average daily traffic (AADT) figures within this decade will lead to falling levels of service on U.S. Route 13, in the absence of the new Relief Route, which includes a new crossing over the canal.
(9) The existing St. Georges Bridge is currently scheduled for interim repairs. It is also projected that major rehabilitation of the existing bridge will be required. The interim repairs should permit the delay of the major rehabilitation of this bridge for five years. Nonetheless, the projected major rehabilitation will cause severe traffic disruptions on U. S. Route 13, in the absence of a new crossing for the Relief Route being in place by that time.
(10) A new bridge for the U. S. Route 13 Relief Route, using designs now under review by the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, will take at least three years to be completed and open to traffic.
(11) Under the circumstances outlined herein, at a minimum the new bridge for the relief route should be built and in operation on or before December 31, 1995 in order to maintain levels of service and prevent the serious disruption of the State's economy.
(b) The General Assembly hereby determines that pursuant to the obligations the United States assumed by its acquisition of the property of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, the United States should provide for the construction and maintenance of a new bridge over the canal to carry the highway traffic using the U. S. Route 13 Relief Route, in order to make and keep good and sufficient crossings over the canal.
Section 2. Terms and Conditions. Pursuant to its legally binding obligation contained in 3 Delaware Laws, Chapter 78, Section 16, the Government of the United states of America is hereby requested to provide for the construction and maintenance of a new bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal for the U. S. Route 13 Relief Route, under the following terms and conditions:
(a) The new bridge should be built using a design and In the location approved by the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, on a schedule which will permit the new bridge to be in operation on or before December 31, 1995.
(b) Federal appropriations for the Federal Fiscal Year 1991, which begins October 1, 1990, should contain provisions indicating the Federal Government's acceptance of its obligation to provide for the construction and maintenance of the new bridge under the terms and conditions outlined herein, on or before December 31, 1995. The absence of any such appropriation, or other suitable Federal legislation enacted before December 31, 1990, as determined by the Governor, shall be taken by the State of Delaware as a refusal by the Federal Government to meet its obligations to make and keep good and sufficient crossings over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, as required under 3 Delaware Laws, Chapter 78, Section 16.
Section 3. Effective Date. This Act shall become effective upon approval by the General Assembly and execution by the Governor; however, Section 2 of the Act shall not remain in effect if the Government of the United States and the State of Delaware enter into an agreement which will provide the necessary crossing over the canal under terms and conditions acceptable to both governments, which terms and conditions may differ from those provided In Section 2.
Approved February 8, 1990.