Commentary: DelDOT prepares for busy year ahead of I-95 project

Anyone who lives or travels through New Castle County is aware of the numerous transportation infrastructure projects that have and continue to cause disruptions. These projects were all planned so they could be substantially completed before the I-95 Corridor Rehabilitation Project begins in March 2021.

As we look ahead to 2020, DelDOT continues to prepare for this major I-95 project that is necessary to ensure the more than 50-year-old road and bridges through the city continue to be safe and will extend the service life of the infrastructure for another 30 years. The work that will be taking place cannot simply be done during off-peak travel times or without long-term lane closures, and further delaying the project will only result in more costly and traffic disrupting repairs in the future. I want to stress that I-95 will still be open during the project, however, in a more limited capacity.

Jennifer Cohan

Once March 2021 arrives, the goal is to limit construction in other areas of Wilmington and the county as traffic will shift away from I-95. Leading up to that date we have a lot of work planned in the year ahead.

Our 2020 goals include:

• Completing more than $40 million in paving and rehabilitation projects in and around Wilmington on roads that will be utilized as alternatives to I-95.

• Opening the new Wilmington Transit Center to improve public transportation services in Wilmington and northern New Castle County.

• Raising awareness of our improved technology for utilizing public transportation which includes our DART mobile payment app, real-time bus information, and offering free Wi-Fi service on fixed route buses.

• Expanding hours of DART operations on weekends and additional holiday service.

• Creating a dedicated bus lane on portions of U.S. 13 northbound to allow for expedited public transit into Wilmington.

• DART’s RideShare Delaware will work directly with businesses to customize commuting travel option programs so businesses can pilot and implement continuity plans prior to the 2021 project start date.

• DART’s RideShare Delaware will also focus on employees and conduct outreach activities at their places of employment to educate employees on their clean-commute options and provide project updates.

• Opening the Newark Regional Transportation Center to offer expanded amenities for the growing number of local rail commuters.

• Expanding parking at the Fairplay Station at Delaware Park to accommodate new ridership for those choosing to use SEPTA to commute to and from Wilmington and Philadelphia.

• Opening the new Christina River Bridge and approach roads at the Riverfront, allowing traffic easy access to US 13 and I-495.

• Completing the I-95/Marsh Road interchange improvements.

• Beginning the Second Street I-95 ramp realignment project in Wilmington.

• Upgrading nearly 200 traffic signa s within the city and integrating them into the state system to allow for real-time timing adjustment.

Once these projects and initiatives are complete, traveling around Wilmington and northern New Castle County will be much more efficient for everyone utilizing alternative routes to I-95.

Additionally, we have presented to numerous groups about the project in 2019, and we will be holding a series of informational meetings around New Castle County over the next year to continue to educate the public with accurate information about the project and offering public transportation options and alternative routes.

Information on this project and all of our projects can be found on our free smartphone app as well as the project website, www.de.gov/i95rehab, or call us at 302-760-2080, if you have questions or would like to be added to our communications list for project updates.

Completing this project as safely and quickly as possible is our highest priority. Roughly 111,000 vehicles utilize this section of I-95 each day, and we are committed to helping everyone who will be impacted by the project to prepare and plan accordingly.

Jennifer Cohan is secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation.