Delaware Casino Bailout Stinks

 

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Something stinks in Delaware and it’s not just the horseshoe crabs decaying on the beaches of the Delaware Bay.

It is the bailout of the state’s three casinos, which may be the worst deal in the history of bad state government deals.  And that is really saying something considering New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave Revel casino in Atlantic City $300 million last year, and this year Revel is declaring bankruptcy.

The Delaware deal stinks even more than that one.  Let’s go through the reasons why.

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President Obama Appears in Wilmington

President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del. Photo | Patrick Semansky, AP

President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del. Photo | Patrick Semansky, AP

“Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. Now I’m gonna sign my memorandum.”

This is how Barack Obama ended his speech today in Wilmington, Delaware, where he spoke about transportation funding. He appeared in Delaware due to the shuttering of the I-495 bridge thanks to tilting bridge columns. Federal funds are paying for some of the repairs. “When I get a chance to help communities like Wilmington,” Obama said, “I’m going to do it.”

After his speech, Obama signed a memorandum that creates the “Build America” initiative, which creates an office that helps local and state governments get federal transportation funding credits and encourages the growth of private-public partnerships for infrastructure. “We’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects,” Obama said.

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Couple Arrested for Sex on Roof of Chipotle Restaurant

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Google street view

Two Delaware residents were arrested for having sex on top of a Chipotle in Newark.

The police went to the East Main Street Chipotle around 9:40 p.m. last night after multiple (multiple!) reports of a couple openly having sex on top of the restaurant. A quick Google Street View check shows the roof of the restaurant does not appear to offer much privacy. Also, the Chipotle is open until 10.

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University of Delaware Cancels Plans for Natural Gas Plant on Campus

The University of Delaware killed a state-backed plan for a natural gas plant on its campus after outcry from students, the faculty senate and neighbors in the area.

As part of the plan, Data Centers LLC would have built a corporate data center and natural gas plant at the University’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research campus in Newark.

“Moreover, it is extremely important that development on the STAR Campus, which is held to the highest standards, is appropriate both for the short and the long term, and that future generations of students will have a top-quality education,” University president Patrick T. Harker said in a release. “We have carefully examined the Data Centers’ plans, and have determined that they are not a good fit for the STAR Campus.”

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Transit Roundup: Fans at PATCO Stops, Delaware SEPTA Petition and More

There’s so much tiny little transit news today I’m compiling it all into one post. Let’s do this, people.

PATCO Will Soon Have Fans

No, PATCO doesn’t have a large cheering section headed to a station. But it is installing actual fans — the kind that circulate air — at two Center City stations. The 9th/10th and 12th/13th stops will get fans by the end of next week.

Due to reduced service caused by the extensive track work on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, PATCO is operating fewer trains this summer. Riders are being forced to stand on the platforms longer and, well, it’s been quite hot recently. The fans should help a little, I guess.

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Part of Shuttered I-495 Bridge Could Open Early

The Delaware Department of Transportation said Wednesday that part of the I-495 bridge could open early, perhaps before Labor Day. Previous projections put the bridge opening sometime after the holiday.

The I-495 bridge has been closed since early June, when support columns for the bridge — which carries I-495 over the Christina River — were found to have tilted.

DelDOT is drilling 32 new shafts to create new support columns. That drilling is expected to be finished ahead of schedule, on Tuesday of next week, July 15th. Look how excited the press release is about it: “This is possible because the drilling operation has gone exceedingly well, and because all of the necessary personnel, material and equipment have converged from around the United States on the site when needed.” U-S-A! U-S-A!

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The I-495 Debacle: Who Approved the Dirt That Broke the Bridge?

Crews work on the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Crews work on the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The blame game continues in Delaware as investigators try to figure out who broke the I-495 Bridge.  And at least one Delaware official is calling for a federal investigation.

The heavily travelled federal highway will be closed all summer after an engineer noticed that the bridge’s support piers were damaged.  The emergency repairs are expected to cost $20 million.

An investigation found that someone dumped 55 thousand tons of dirt under the bridge causing the piers to shift and crack. Keogh Contracting owns the dirt and is helping to haul it away, but that much dirt doesn’t just appear overnight. It has to be approved with government permits, especially since much of the dirt was piled high on state owned land.

Charles Copeland, a former state legislator and chair of the state Republican party, isn’t ready to put all the blame on the contractor.  “He didn’t just wake up one day and say ‘I’m just going to start dumping dirt under 495,’” Copeland told me during a television interview. “He did that under contracts, he did that under authorities.”

So who approved the dirt that broke the bridge?  Read more »

Dogfish Brewing Opens Its Own Inn

1403554694000-407Dogfish Head Brewery has set an opening date for their first inn: July 1st. The Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware will include 15 rooms and one two-bedroom suite. Rates are expected to start at mid- to high- $200s and rise to $595 for the suite.

The inn has Posturepedic beds and some Dogfish Head apparel, but there are a few things you’re going to want to bring: your pup (the inn is dog-friendly) and the beer (Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head, won’t be serving up any alcohol or food). You can leave the bottle opener at home though because the walls have mounted ones.

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Work on Shuttered I-495 Bridge ‘Rapidly Moving Ahead’

 

Crews work on the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Crews work on the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Delaware Department of Transportation released an optimistic update on the repair effort for the closed I-495 bridge. Saying it was “rapidly moving ahead,” DelDOT says work is moving smoothly.

Workers plan to install 32 steel-reinforced concrete shafts to support the bridge, which was closed indefinitely in early June. So far, three have been completed and three are scheduled to be completed today.

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