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Dover Transit Center to see nearly $5M in grants for solar upgrades

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City of Dover

Dover will see upgrades to its transit center thanks to a nearly $5 million congressional grant. l PHOTO BY JENNIFER ANTONIK

DOVER — Nearly $5 million in congressional grant funding will soon help the Downtown Dover Partnership and Delaware Transit Corporation power up the Dover Transit Center.

The current location offers several bus routes and a park and ride lot. In total, $4.9 million from the Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has been awarded to the Delaware Transit Corporation to add solar panels to the location offering modern solutions in the search for sustainable transportation options.

“The timing of this project by the Delaware Transit Corporation could not be better as it will enhance the travel choices that residents, visitors and workers will be able to avail themselves of as Dover’s transformative plan takes shape. Further, this infrastructure in Dover will work ‘hand in glove’ with the new, nearby mobility center, providing both accessibility to transportation and more efficiency to the bussing option,” Downtown Dover Partnership (DDP)Executive Director Diane Laird told the Delaware Business Times in a prepared statement.

Dover officials have been working for years on a master plan that promises $500 million in investment to redevelop 15 acres of developable land throughout the city, which may include 97,700 square feet of commercial space, a 27,500-square-foot grocery store, a riverwalk that augment the 21 acres of open space, and more. 

An integral part to breathing life back into the city’s downtown district is including apartments above first-floor retail and making the area more friendly to pedestrians, bicyclists and those taking public transportation. A DART Transit station would play a key role in this plan.

Along with the environmental benefits of this project, Laird said she knows the personal benefits of public transportation having commuted into Wilmington for more than 10 years.

“The bus provided a comfortable and price-effective alternative to driving.  Transportation that is convenient, reliable, energy efficient and clean is a win, and when we can include effective landscaping by way of eco-friendly plants, the outcome promotes a beautiful environment, as well,” she added.

Solar panels installed at the Dover Transit Center will not only provide for a new solar-powered bus shelter, but will also generate power that can be stored in batteries in overhead charging stations on electric buses, keeping them in service throughout their daily runs.

The funds will also be used to increase bicycle parking and repair stations, as well as planting native pollinator plants and installing signage promoting the new additions.

“Today’s grant announcement for Delaware Transit Corporation is about strengthening our clean energy future,” Rep. Blunt Rochester said in a press release promoting the announcement on Wednesday. “I am thrilled to have helped secure this federal funding to build out the infrastructure at Dover Transit Center so that we can reduce our carbon footprint, create good-paying clean energy jobs, and make the First State a healthier place to live and work.”

The announcement from the Delaware delegation marks the latest investment from state and federal officials in Dover’s reinvention. Earlier this year, Gov. John Carney awarded the project $25 million from American Rescue Plan Act as well as previous bond bill funding. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency also awarded the DDP $1 million grant to aid in redeveloping Brownfield sites.

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