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Good News, Bad News in Delaware

John Deiner

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).

By John Deiner |  January 23, 2007; 9:49 AM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , Mid-Atlantic Destinations
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You can get off at either Exit 109 or Exit 100 in Maryland, but you want to head Eastboad on US Route 40, not Route 4 (don't think there is a Route 4 in that area). You will cross into Delaware and you want to head North, not South on Route 896. After 2 or 3 miles, you will connect with 95 again.

You will have your readers going down the shore in Delaware if they go south on 896.

Posted by: Jason M | January 23, 2007 10:54 AM

He didn't mention a little part of that detour. You take the northbound exit, towards Newwark, just before the barrier and then make the right onto that little parkway past the Chrystler plant, then right again onto 896 back to I-95.

The only really annoyance is that the roads in that part of Deleware are in lousy condition as is the ramp back onto I-95. I take that route all the time to save the toll money and the time at the toll barrier.

Posted by: EricS | January 23, 2007 12:05 PM

Yes, Jason,
There is a Route 4, Delaware State Route 4, and it runs parallel to I-95 to the north. So the bypass that Deiner suggested does work.

Posted by: RichardW | January 23, 2007 12:20 PM

Umm. Route 1? I assume it's Delaware's Route 1 maybe? US Route 1 does not enter Delaware.

Posted by: Kim | January 23, 2007 12:51 PM

Yes, Deiner's shortcut DOES work if you get off on 109 northbound and turn right on DE Rt 4. (I think it also might overlap with Rt 2 there.) Pass the Chrysler plant and turn Right on SOUTH 896 back to I-95. There are a few restaurants down that way too if you want to stop.

Posted by: Arrrlington | January 24, 2007 11:13 AM

And here I have been reveling in the construction free Delaware Turnpike! I've been driving I-95 through DE for 35 years and this late fall is the only time I remember no construction. And the toll booth!!! Even with EZPass it can be a nightmare.

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