Over the next couple of weekends, NPR is running a series called I-95: The Road Most Traveled. I-95 is the busiest interstate corridor with 100 million people living along it. I drive on about 3 miles of it every week day and have spent countless hours cruising up to New Jersey (though not much lately) and back on it. The current header of this blog includes the Woodrow Wilson Bridge which carries I-95 (and I-495) over the Potomac River.
The first part of the series At Last, I-95’s Missing Link Hits The Road, is about the portion of Interstate 95 in central New Jersey that never got built and the efforts to reroute the road. According to NYCroads.com’s Interstate 95 (Trenton Section) page (the best history of the road) the approximately 30 miles long section between I-295 north of Trenton and I-287 near Edison was dead in the water by 1979. Officially, the project was killed 1982 and Congress mandated that I-95 be routed onto the eastern end of Pennsylvania Turnpike into New Jersey and up the New Jersey Turnpike starting at interchange 6. Now, 28 years later, work is expected to begin on the I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange this fall. Completion is expected in 2017.
Back in 1995, I exchanged a few emails with the project manager, Jeff Davis, and got on the newsletter mailing list. I figured then that the project would be done by now, as I am sure he did. He is featured in story and has been working on the project since 1984, his whole career.
Left unsaid was the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission/PennDot frustration in having to undertake this project because New Jersey did not build the road. I suppose that will be mitigated by the toll revenue that will come in once it is open. Also left unsaid by NPR was the need for a second crossing over the Delaware River.
Speculation has always centered on the New Jersey Turnpike authority supporting I-95 not be built, but I have never seen a published report about it. The new I-95 alignment may result in a traffic pattern changes. More travelers may choose to stick to mainline I-95 and go through Philadelphia instead of using the southern section of the N.J. Turnpike. By the way, widening between where I-95 will join the N.J. Turnpike at interchange 6, is planned north to interchange 9. I-95 has been routed on the N.J. Turnpike between interchange 10 and the northern terminus near the George Washington Bridge since the interstate highway system was founded.
The second part of the series is It’s The Heart That Keeps I-95’s Economy Pumping, about the Port of Savannah and Georgia’s widening of I-95.