What's more, federal acceptance of a
plan to bring the most populous county into compliance with
Clean Air Act standards for vehicular emissions assures that
federal money for highways building and other transportation
projects will continue to flow into Delaware. Among projects
previously said to have been threatened was the extensive road
network planned for the Blue Ball area in southern Brandywine
'press release' issued on July 19, the planning council said
that the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit
Administration both signed off on the plan on
July 16. Approval came in the proverbial nick of time -- just a week and a day before the deadline to
demonstrate sufficient progress toward meeting the standards.
time this could become an issue is 2005," said planner David
no major highway-building projects are presently contemplated
beyond those already in the pipeline and included in the model
on which standards attainment was based, it is expected that
vehicular emissions of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic
compounds will remain within acceptable limits at least until
then and probably beyond, he explained. The approved plan
projects compliance through 2025.
offending chemicals combine to produce ozone. Under certain
atmospheric conditions -- particularly hot muggy days -- ozone
levels become high enough that they are unhealthful.
planning council's 'release' also declared that neighboring
Cecil County, Md., was similarly brought into compliance with
federal acceptance of its plan in June. The council is the
designated transportation planning organization for New Castle
and Cecil Counties, which are considered a single metropolitan
Castle County was brought into compliance on the basis of future
actions. Primarily, the planning council claimed -- and was
granted -- 'credits' against actual emissions because of
the ability of the state motor vehicle inspection process
beginning next January to more strictly monitor emission
controls. The state then expects to have equipment in place to
check the functioning of emissions control electronic chips that
are in vehicle models later than 1996.
now, Saladino noted, many owners have been able to get their
vehicles through inspection simply by putting a gasoline
additive in the tank just before going through the line.
cited by the planning council as measures promising reduction of
pollution were Delaware Department of Transportation's program
to coordinate traffic signals along major routes and efforts to
expand and promote the use of public transit.
nearly a year of open discussion and extensive publicity in
something of a crisis-like atmosphere, that plan was formulated
and quietly approved by the planning council's board for
submission to Washington on June 21.
agreed that resolution of the crisis was largely a bookkeeping
exercise. "We managed to put together 'credits' without doing
anything more than what was already going to happen," he said.
Doing so without calling public
attention to the process at that point enabled the planning
council to back away from a controversy over the politically
unpopular proposal to reduce the state's only 65 m.p.h. speed
limits, at least on days when the pollution threat is deemed the
state lawmakers had declare that too radical a solution. Federal
criteria for offsetting pollution are based on speed limits, not
actual speeds traveled, although that is what elevates emission
levels. Although the two express highways are the only ones in
Delaware with 65 m.p.h. limits, it is generally recognized that
average speed on several other roads is that or higher.
'release' cautioned that the ozone pollution issue is not fully
these recent approvals extend our air quality conformity status
and will allow federal transportation funds and permits to
continue, the issue is one that is not likely to go away
anything soon. With population figures, automobile trips and
vehicle miles of travel all increasing at significant rates, and
the potential for emission budgets to come down even further, we
will need to take a long-term approach to cleaning the air in
our region," it said.
said that mitigation steps generated by the crisis will go
forward. They include putting changeable speed limit signs on
I-495 and Delaware 1 and studying the feasibility of an
arrangement by which the state would buy or encourage through
tax concessions the disposal of older vehicles.
He said one advantage of having gone
through the crisis is that it made a relatively large segment of
the public aware of the issue.