When Kenny Venarchick of Clayton moved around some dirt with a backhoe Aug. 27, it marked the end of a tough time for him and his family.

    When Kenny Venarchick of Clayton moved around some dirt with a backhoe Aug. 27, it marked the end of a tough time for him and his family.
    Venarchick, who has operated heavy equipment for 15 years, had his hours as a machine-operating engineer at Cirillo Brothers cut back earlier this year. But he’s now back to work full-time for the company at the Del. 299 Park & Ride in Middletown, which commenced its expansion project with Venarchick’s ground-breaking.
    He said it’s not just his family who is benefiting from the project.
    “This brings everybody [from the company] back to work,” Venarchick said. “We’re going to need easy 20 to 40 people.”
    The Park & Ride expansion is the first American Reinvestment & Recovery Act transit project scheduled for construction in Delaware. 
    Stephan Kingsberry, Delaware Transit Corporation executive director, said the project was expected to cost $1 million, but Cirillo Brothers’ bid was just $670,000.
    The Park & Ride, which was built in 1997, will be expanded from 102 parking spaces to 209 spaces. There also will be a traffic signal added at its entrance onto Del. 299 and a pedestrian and bike path will be constructed.
    “More and more people are taking transit and carpooling. We must provide facilities like this to accommodate more riders,” Kingsberry said.
    Gov. Jack Markell said the project was both good for the environment, because it encourages fewer cars to operate on the road, and for the wallet, because drivers can save money when they carpool or take the bus.
    But he said the key focus of the project is jobs.
    “That’s why these projects are so important,” Markell said.
    U.S. Sen. Ted Kauffman (D-Delaware) said the Delaware Department of Transportation has worked hard to get its ARRA projects going.
    “It’s terrible when people lose their jobs,” he said. “The economic recovery act is an opportunity to get people back to work.”
    Mike Cirillo, co-owner of Cirillo Brothers, said the project would employ not just his workers, but contractors and subcontractors.
    “We certainly appreciate the work,” he said. “This project helps us keep our employees working steady. We’re glad to be a part of this effort.”
    U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) said more Delawareans should take advantage of public transportation options because the state’s roads are over-utilized with private vehicles.
    “They can walk here, ride their bike here, drive here and wait for the bus,” he said. “It makes sense.”
    Carper said he once traveled to Mackinac Island, Mich., by utilizing a train, a plane, a ferry and a carriage.
    “I challenge each of you to not just match that, but to do better than that,” he said.
    Currently, the Park & Ride is serviced by the Route 43 Bus Service, which was added in June 2009 to meet the increasing transit demands in the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area, and bus Route 45 with service between Odessa and Wilmington. The facility is also serviced by the Intercounty Route – bus Route 301, which has become a preferred method of travel for commuters between Kent and New Castle counties.
    “The States and Stimulus” report by Smart Growth America and CalPIRG recently recognized Delaware among three states ranked as “outstanding” for its mix of Recovery Act funds between road repair and transit, bike and pedestrian projects.

At a glance
    • The DART bus Route 43 offers 25 weekday round-trips from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Del. 299 site.
    • The service area of the new Route 43 extends from the intersection of U.S. 13 and Del. 299 in Odessa to the Wal-Mart Supercenter on U.S. 301. Along the way, the shuttle serves residential, retail and educational sites including Middletown High School, Middletown Crossing, Bethesda United Methodist Church, downtown Middletown, Middletown Village, Kohl’s and Odessa’s Main Street.
    • The Intercounty Route daily ridership jumped from 537 in December 2007 to 715 in December 2008. Eleven buses service the Intercounty Route.