Cohen addresses Sussex County transportation, partnerships

“Help me, Sussex County — partnering is our only hope,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohen at the Today & Tomorrow Conference, held at Delaware Technical Community College on Oct. 31.

Cohen attended the event dressed as “Star Wars” character Princess Leia — buns and all.

Cohen discussed the future of transportation in Sussex County, noting that over the next six years, the State will be making an “epic investment” downstate.

“We are going to spend a billion dollars in Sussex County over the next six years,” she said. “We are on the verge of the fastest acceleration in transportation that we have seen in this country since the creation of the automobile.”

The Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, has shown interest in bringing its hyperloop to Delaware, she said.

According to the Boring Company’s website, “hyperloop is an ultra high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric pods traveling at 600-plus miles per hour in a pressurized cabin. Similar to Loop, Hyperloop pods will transport between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle.”

“There is absolutely no reason why we can’t have a hyperloop straight down the middle of Route 1,” said Cohen.

Currently, the company is working on creating a hyperloop in Los Angeles, with talks of expanding to Baltimore and Chicago.

So, why are they considering Delaware?

“Our government is nimble,” said Cohen. “We are open to innovative ideas and concepts.”

Cohen said the transportation of the future is going to require a “governmental leap of faith.”

“Government — we are truly risk-averse. We like to know all the answers to all the questions before we do anything. And we are very slow. We have to overcome that… People want fast, efficient modes of transportation.”

Transportation is quickly changing, said Cohen, and governments need to be prepared to move with it.

“Less than 10 years ago, we were still drilling it into our children’s heads that ‘You do not get in a car with a stranger. Do not take rides from strangers.’ Now we have an app for that. If you think about the timeframe, that is a huge change in transportation delivery.”

Along with governments, the people of Sussex County, and Delaware, she said, need to be open to change as well.

“We are doing more in Sussex County than we have ever done in Sussex County — but way long overdue… We are going places in Sussex County. Please be open to the transportation of the future. You’re going to see a lot more public transportation, a lot more innovation coming out of the department.

“To spend $1 billion sounds great… It’s going to be truly challenging to get these projects done. I’m going to need your patience, your courage, to help us do that. Because to be able to get to the future we want, there’s going to be some rebel resistance as we go through. You with me?”

 

By Maria Counts
Staff Reporter