Good News, Bad News in Delaware
Delaware: Such a small state, but such a big pain.
If you ever drive up I-95 to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you know you have to contend with that sliver of the interstate that winds through the First State. I go that way frequently, so I could empathize with Travel section readers and Monday chat participants when they group-whined last fall about a major traffic nightmare in the area. The state rebuilt an overpass, causing traffic to go from four lanes down to one, Delaware DOT spokesman Mike Williams told me Monday. If you were caught in it, you probably still have your palm prints embedded in your steering wheel. It was that bad.
Fortunately, the project, which began in September, wrapped up around Thanksgiving. But there's another project looming, and it will last far longer than the bridge work.
Sometime later this year, says Williams, the state will start to widen I-95. Ouch. Construction will begin around Route 1 and extend four miles up the road. Double ouch. And it won't be done until 2010. Triple . . . oh, you get the point. The good news, according to Williams, is that no lanes will be shut down per se. The bad news is that the interstate will be lined with concrete barriers, which almost guarantees a slowdown (the sense that your lane has just lost about eight inches freaks out just about every driver, doesn't it?). "It will last longer" than last fall's construction, says Williams, "but it won't be as impactful."
Let's hope so. My advice is to check for updates at the Delaware DOT Web site, and to keep your eyes on the road.
(If the new construction doesn't lead to much traffic, that'll be great. But you'll always have that snafu around the toll plaza to contend with. Hit it at the wrong time, and you're reading billboards while stuck in a mile-long backup. I've gotten into the habit of jumping off at Exit 109 in Maryland when traveling northbound, then taking a right on Route 4 and south on Route 896 back to the interstate -- north of the toll). It takes a few minutes longer, but you can use the toll money you saved for a cup of joe at Dunkin' Donuts).
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