Delaware Considering I-95 Toll Plaza Improvement
State governments nationwide are developing lists of transportation projects that could qualify for the rapid spending required under the federal stimulus package, and there's one on Delaware's list that would win the support of many travelers in the Washington area.
Among the state's priorities is a plan to reconfigure the Newark Toll Plaza to add two highway-speed E-ZPass lanes on the northbound and southbound sides, at a cost of about $43 million.
This would ease an infamous slowdown for many long-distance drivers on Interstate 95. You tell me about this one quite often, but especially around holiday and vacation times, and it always comes up as the crucial place to avoid when we talk about alternative getaway routes.
"Up to 250,000 people a day drive that stretch of I-95," Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement today that highlighted the proposed E-ZPass lanes. "That means we've got a quarter of a million chances to make a great first impression."
Indeed. The First State's standing has slipped in the eyes of many drivers in our area, and this project would do a lot to restore it. A maximum of 125,000 vehicles per day go through the E-ZPass lanes, according to the governor's office. The problem is that at peak periods, those lanes off to the left and right are difficult to reach. Drivers with E-ZPasses are stuck in the same backups as everyone else approaching the plaza.
Current pay lanes can process about 350 to 400 vehicles an hour, according to the transportation department. Highway speed E-ZPass lanes can process about 2,000 vehicles per hour.
Construction of highway-speed toll lanes, the kind some of you see on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, would be a breakthrough.
According to the Delaware Department of Transportation: Approximately 55 percent of travelers through the Newark Toll Plaza use E-ZPass. So, "congestion would be drastically reduced with high-speed lanes. This plaza is a regular complaint of motorists traveling through this state, and leaves travelers with a negative impression - in many cases their only impression -- of Delaware, impacting reputation, business, tourism and economic development."
Well put. The project was scheduled to begin construction in 2011 or 2012, the transportation department says, but stimulus money could speed that up considerably. The design is largely complete and no additional right of way is needed, the transportation department says.
February 11, 2009; 10:53 AM ET
Categories: Driving , Getaway , Transportation Politics
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