On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, and has since been known as “The First State”. Delaware occupies a small niche in the Boston–Washington, D.C., urban corridor along the Middle Atlantic seaboard. It is part of the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula and some islands and territory within the Delaware River. It is the 2nd smallest and 6th least populous state, but the 6th most densely populated. Delaware’s largest city is Wilmington and the capital is Dover.
Delaware is known by many nicknames “The First State”, “The Diamond State”, “Blue Hen State” and “Small Wonder”. The state tree is the American Holly, the state bird is the Blue Hen and the state flower is the Peach Blossom. The state motto is ‘Liberty and Independence’.
Amtrak has two stations in Delaware along the Northeast Corridor; the relatively quiet Newark Rail Station in Newark, and the busier Wilmington Rail Station in Wilmington. The Northeast Corridor is also served by SEPTA’s Wilmington/Newark Line of Regional Rail, which serves Claymont, Wilmington, Churchmans Crossing, and Newark.
Two Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX, provide freight rail service in northern New Castle County. Norfolk Southern provides freight service along the Northeast Corridor and to industrial areas in Edgemoor, New Castle, and Delaware City. CSX’s Philadelphia Subdivision passes through northern New Castle County parallel to the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Multiple short-line railroads provide freight service in Delaware. The Delmarva Central Railroad operates the most trackage of the short-line railroads, running from an interchange with Norfolk Southern in Porter south through Dover, Harrington, and Seaford to Delmar, with another line running from Harrington to Frankford and branches from Ellendale to Milton and from Georgetown to Gravel Hill. The Delmarva Central Railroad connects with the Maryland and Delaware Railroad, which serves local customers in Sussex County. CSX connects with the freight/heritage operation, the Wilmington and Western Railroad, based in Wilmington and the East Penn Railroad, which operates a line from Wilmington to Coatesville, Pennsylvania.
The last north-south passenger train through the main part of Delaware was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s The Cavalier, which ended service from Philadelphia through the state’s interior in 1951.
The DART First State public transportation system was named “Most Outstanding Public Transportation System” in 2003 by the American Public Transportation Association. Coverage of the system is broad within northern New Castle County with close association to major highways in Kent and Sussex counties. The system includes bus, subsidized passenger rail operated by Philadelphia transit agency SEPTA, and subsidized taxi and paratransit modes. The paratransit system, consisting of a statewide door-to-door bus service for the elderly and disabled, has been described by a Delaware state report as “the most generous paratransit system in the United States.” As of 2012, fees for the paratransit service have not changed since 1988.
Delaware Route 1 (DE 1), a partial toll road linking Fenwick Island and Wilmington
One major branch of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Interstate 95 (I-95), crosses Delaware southwest-to-northeast across New Castle County. In addition to I-95, there are six U.S. highways that serve Delaware: U.S. Route 9 (US 9), US 13, US 40, US 113, US 202, and US 301. There are also several state highways that cross the state of Delaware; a few of them include Delaware Route 1 (DE 1), DE 9, and DE 404. US 13 and DE 1 are primary north-south highways connecting Wilmington and Pennsylvania with Maryland, with DE 1 serving as the main route between Wilmington and the Delaware beaches. DE 9 is a north-south highway connecting Dover and Wilmington via a scenic route along the Delaware Bay. US 40, is a primary east-west route, connecting Maryland with New Jersey. DE 404 is another primary east-west highway connecting the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland with the Delaware beaches. The state also operates three toll highways, the Delaware Turnpike, which is I-95, between Maryland and New Castle; the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, which is DE 1, between Wilmington and Dover; and the US 301 toll road between the Maryland border and DE 1 in New Castle County.
A bicycle route, Delaware Bicycle Route 1, spans the north-south length of the state from the Maryland border in Fenwick Island to the Pennsylvania border north of Montchanin. It is the first of several signed bike routes planned in Delaware.
Delaware has around 1,450 bridges, 95% of which are under the supervision of DelDOT. About 30% of all Delaware bridges were built before 1950, and about 60% of the number are included in the National Bridge Inventory. Some bridges not under DelDOT supervision includes the four bridges on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, which are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which is under the bi-state Delaware River and Bay Authority.
It has been noted that the tar and chip composition of secondary roads in Sussex County make them more prone to deterioration than asphalt roadways found in almost the rest of the state. Among these roads, Sussex (county road) 236 is among the most problematic.
As of 2016, there is no scheduled air service from any Delaware airport, as has been the case in various years since 1991. Various airlines had served Wilmington Airport, with the latest departure being Frontier Airlines in April 2015.
Delaware is centrally situated in the Northeast megalopolis region of cities along I-95. Therefore, Delaware commercial airline passengers most frequently use Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) for domestic and international transit. Residents of Sussex County will also use Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY), as it is located less than 10 miles (16 km) from the Delaware border. Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) are also within a 100-mile (160 km) radius of New Castle County.
The Dover Air Force Base of the Air Mobility Command is in the central part of the state, and it is the home of the 436th Airlift Wing and the 512th Airlift Wing.
Other general aviation airports in Delaware include Summit Airport near Middletown, Delaware Airpark near Cheswold, and Delaware Coastal Airport near Georgetown.
The transportation system in Delaware is under the governance and supervision of the Delaware Department of Transportation, also known as “DelDOT”. DelDOT manages programs such as a Delaware Adopt-a-Highway program, major road route snow removal, traffic control infrastructure (signs and signals), toll road management, Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, the Delaware Transit Corporation (branded as “DART First State”, the state government public transportation organization), among others. In 2009, DelDOT maintained 13,507 lane miles of roads, totaling 89 percent of the state’s public roadway system; the remaining public road miles are under the supervision of individual municipalities. This far exceeds the United States national average of 20 percent for state department of transportation maintenance responsibility.
There are three ferries that operate in the state of Delaware: Cape May–Lewes Ferry crosses the mouth of the Delaware Bay between Lewes, Delaware and Cape May, New Jersey; Woodland Ferry is a cable ferry that crosses the Nanticoke River southwest of Seaford; and Forts Ferry Crossing connects Delaware City with Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, New Jersey.