Category Archives: Northeast Corridor

An up close look at the Delaware Memorial Bridge

US Route 40Interstate 295 - DelawareInterstate 295 - New JerseyPreserving a bridge, one paint coat at a timeThe News Journal
My favorite bridge(s), the Delaware Memorial Bridge which carries Interstate 295 and US 40 between Delaware and New Jersey is being repainted. A photographer went along for the story and took some video in addition to photographs:

The video features the external elevators that I dislike for aesthetic reasons:

The pic referred to in the tweet is one my wife took in 2013 on our way back from a visit to The Jersey Shore.

Delaware Memorial Bridge

All those trips down the Shore are one of the reasons I love those bridge(s), though the novelty of twin suspension bridges is a big part of it too. No, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge doesn’t count — those are fraternal twins. Technically, the Delaware Memorial Bridges are too, as the Delaware-bound span is wider, but that is not distinguishable to the eye. The towers are 440 feet tall.

[flickr : Photos tagged with delmembr/slideshow]

Learn more at Steve Anderson’s phillyroads.com

Highway markers by Shields Up!

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REDUCE SPEED: These neon signs used to be all over the New Jersey Turnpike. Photo by Ian Ligget.

REDUCE SPEED: Vintage neon NJ Turnpike sign for sale on ebay

Can somebody please buy, ship and store this outstanding New Jersey Turnpike neon sign for me? It’s only $2,000! You can drop it off with me when I get a house. A really big one, apparently.

In 2013, I mentioned the coming end of NJ Turnpike exceptionalism when it comes to signs. The Turnpike Authority has begun modernizing (note: I did not say “upgrade”) highway signs to comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Though not necessarily directly related, the neon “REDUCE SPEED” signs that have been on the Turnpike since time immemorial are being removed in favor of modern LED signs.

I have been wondering what will happen to all of these classic neon signs. I hope that some are saved for museums. Maybe I’ll tweet at them to buy this one, though on second thought the Turnpike ought to donate one. There probably ought to be one or two at a service plaza on the Turnpike itself.

The sign itself probably weighs at least a ton and it has to be picked up. This isn’t a really good time for me to do that logistically or financially. So, a little help?

Failing the acquisition of this neon sign, I’d be okay with a Turnpike trailblazer. A Garden State Parkway, Capital Beltway and even a Pennsylvania Turnpike sign while you are at it.

Photos © Ian Ligget

h/t Steve Anderson

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I-95: Chesapeake House reopened

Chesapeake House the second service area, err travel plaza on Interstate 95 (John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) north, reopened last Tuesday. Both the renovation and reopening seems to be lacking in the fanfare of Maryland House, but it’s good news for I-95 travelers.

In my experience Chesapeake House, originally opened in 1972, is less crowded than Maryland House, so I have preferred stopping there over the years. The last several years have seen three completely rebuilt service areas along a 40 mile stretch of I-95 between Baltimore and Wilmington. The Delaware Service Plaza was rebuilt in 2008.

Maryland Transportation Authority sealService areas are lasting vestige of the pre-interstate toll roads area. In order to promote commerce along interstate corridors, service areas are banned and have been since the early 1960s. Some interstates were assigned to existing turnpikes like parts of the New Jersey Turnpike and the service areas were grandfathered in.

Unfortunately, an opportunity was missed during the reconstruction of these service areas — flyover ramps from the right side. It would have been eight overall (2 off, 2 on in each direction) but for whatever reason, the Maryland Transportation Authority did not choose to go n that direction. Safety and traffic flow are better when exits and entrances are from the right side.

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Maryland House service area by C. Patrick Zilliacus

I-95: New Maryland House service area re-opened, Chesapeake House closed

The first service area on Interstate 95 north, Maryland House, reopened recently. The facility was knocked down and replaced after closing in September 2012.

Private money built the new facility, and a private company will operate it.

Here’s what Maryland gets:

“Over $400 million in state revenue over the length of the partnership,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

The 35-year private-public partnership will also mean hundreds of local jobs.

The new Maryland House travel plaza will also have 40 gas pumps.

From 50-Year-Old Maryland House Set To Reopen As Ultra-Modern Rest Stop

Here is the official release: New $30 Million Maryland House Travel Plaza on I-95 Now Open

Further up I-95, the Chesapeake House will be closed until late summer or fall to be rebuilt.

PREVIOUSLY

I-95 Maryland House service area closes this Sunday09.11.2012
I-95’s Maryland service areas to be rebuilt02.13.2012
Upgrades coming to Md. I-95 service areas10.06.2006

Photo used with permission of C Patrick Zilliacus

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This Sunday – 4 NFL games and a winter storm for a 235 mile stretch of I-95

This Sunday, at 1 p.m. in an approximately 235 miles span of Interstate 95, there are four NFL games taking place, each located within 2 miles of the East Coast’s main highway:

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Redskins, Fex Field, Landover, Md.
Minnesota Vikings at Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.


View Larger Map

There is also a winter storm warning, in particular the D.C. region. From Capital Weather Gang – Winter storm watch issued for much of D.C. area Sunday into Monday:

The onset of precipitation across the area is most likely between mid-morning and noon with the precipitation probably starting as snow but changing to sleet and or freezing rain by late afternoon (in most spots)…

…Snow is likely for the commute to FedEx field (and for the Ravens game in Baltimore) with the snow changing to sleet and freezing rain during the game. Sleet or freezing rain is likely for the drive home.

The storm will also hit Philadelphia and the New York area, though seemingly not as hard around game time. Accuweather says:

While a large amount of snow is not expected, the city could receive its first inch or two of snow of the season, joining some of the northern and western suburbs from Friday night’s storm.

Warmer air is forecast to move in during the storm Sunday evening through Monday, causing a changeover to a wintry mix, then rain from the coast to inland areas.

In short, travel on the I-95 corridor could be pretty tough on Sunday, though most major Northeast Corridor traffic bypasses Philadelphia via the New Jersey Turnpike. On the other hand, MetLife Stadium is directly adjacent to the Turnpike. FedEx Field can be bypassed by using the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (unless you are a truck) and the opposite side of the Capital Beltway. M&T Bank Stadium is right near the terminus of the B/W Parkway, but the Harbor Tunnel Thruway provides a bypass too.

There is also a New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns game in Foxborough, but the forecast there is sunny and 34°.

I don’t know how much these games impact I-95 in general (an interesting question), but whatever that is could be magnified this Sunday.

Yes, I’m aware I-95 isn’t technically continuous between Pennsylvania and New Jersey

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I-95 service area Maryland House expected to reopen in early 2014

Maryland House to Reopen in Early 2014Aberdeen Patch
Maryland House, the first service area on all of northbound Interstate 95 is now expected to reopen in early 2014. A specific date was not mentioned. Previously, Maryland House was supposed to open this month.

However, there was significant work to be done at the 50-year-old Maryland House, where remediation of fuel-contaminated soil cost $2.6 million, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Maryland Transportation Authority sealPart of the Maryland Transportation Authority‘s John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, Maryland House service area closed in September 2012 after 49 years of service, for renovations. The other service area along I-95 in Maryland, Chesapeake House, will closed down to be rebuilt after Maryland House reopens. Each of the service areas has a unique design; Maryland House invokes the letter “M” while Chesapeake House is designed to look like the letter “C.”

Several years ago, the Delaware Turnpike service area along I-95 was also rebuilt.

DID YOU KNOW? Service areas like Maryland House are not permitted in the interstate highway system. However, the I-95 service areas are grandfathered in since they are primarily along toll roads that were planned prior to the prohibition and were noted funded by federal the federal government.

h/t DCroads.net Facebook group

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I-95: 50 years ago, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway and Delaware Turnpike opened

 

On this day in 1963, a significant section of Interstate 95 was opened at the Maryland-Delaware border amid pageantry and 10,000 people that included President John F. Kennedy in one of his last public appearances. The Maryland portion, the Northeast Expressway, was 42 miles long from Baltimore County to the Mason-Dixon Line. Across the border, the Delaware Turnpike traveled another 11 miles. Both states now honor the fallen president; the Northeast Expressway name was replaced in 1964 while Delaware merely added an additional name.

Here is report from the Delaware Department of Transportation which includes part of President Kennedy’s remarks

The transcript of the president’s speech is available from The News Journal or from DelDOT as a PDF.

Though only 53 miles were opened that day, it was a pivotal stretch, filling in the gap between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Harbor Tunnel Thruway. All of those three roads, combined with the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, formed a limited access connection between Washington, D.C. and New York City for the first time — it was already possible to travel from Boston to New York without a single traffic light. The JFK/Del. Tpk. was the last major piece of what Steve Anderson of dcroads.net calls the “eastern turnpike complex”

The first piece of the “complex” was completed in 1940 with the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, followed in 1947 with the opening of the Maine Turnpike. This would be followed with the completion of controlled-access toll expressways in New Hampshire by 1950; Ohio by 1955; in New York and Indiana by 1956; in Massachusetts by 1957; in Connecticut and Illinois by 1958; and in Delaware and Maryland by 1963. By that year, motorists could travel from Maine south to Virginia, or west to Illinois, without stopping at a traffic light. Much of the “eastern turnpike complex” was ultimately absorbed into the Interstate highway system.

The road was tolled in order to get it built quicker:

…funding for other Interstate highways such as the Baltimore (I-695) and Capital (I-495) beltways, as well as urban freeways in those two metropolitan areas, took precedence over the Northeast Expressway. The state highway development program scheduled construction of the Northeast Expressway between 1966 and 1970, long after the aforementioned projects were to be scheduled for completion.

ON THE FAST TRACK TO CONSTRUCTION: In order to expedite construction of I-95, the Maryland State Roads Commission decided to finance construction and maintenance of the expressway with bonds backed by toll revenue. The state, which floated a $73 million bond issue to finance construction of the Northeast Expressway, did not violate Federal highway law because state funds were used to finance construction. However, the highway was to be built to Interstate standards.

The rest of I-95 in Delaware would not be completed until 1968 and the section through Wilmington was controversial. The connector between the Delaware Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike is I-295. In Maryland, I-95 would not be completed through Baltimore until 1985 with the opening of the Ft. McHenry Tunnel, though the Harbor Tunnel Thruway (now I-895) provided limited access through Baltimore. I-95 would not be completed as intended in Maryland with the portion inside the Capital Beltway cancelled, causing the number to be reassigned to the eastern portion of the Capital Beltway.

There is still a gap in New Jersey for I-95, but that is being addressed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike and New Jersey Turnpike. Finally.

I am not sure if Maryland is doing anything to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary, but Delaware has an toll booth on display in the Delaware Service Area near Newark.

I have taken countless trips up the JFK/Del. Tpk. over the years, mostly to New Jersey to see family, friends or visit the Shore. While I don’t do that as often anymore, I still know the road and landmarks quite well and have a fondness for it, if not the Delaware Turnpike toll. It can be pretty in the fall and northeast of the Susquehanna River is the most rural portion of I-95 between Northern Virginia and New Hampshire. In Delaware, I enjoy the anticipation of trying to be the first to see the Delaware Memorial Bridge as well as the significance of the split that sends I-95 to Philadelphia and I-295 to New Jersey, it’s Turnpike, it’s Shore and New York.

ADDITIONAL READING

Delaware Turnpike – phillyroads.com
John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway – dcroads.net

After 50 years, I-95 still East Coast’s common thread and economic backbone | GalleryThe Sun

I-95 in Delaware linked East Coast, divided city of Wilmington | Over five decades, as tolls rise civility falls | TIMELINE: I-95 HISTORYThe News Journal

PRESS RELEASE: Original Delaware Turnpike Celebrates 50th Anniversary on November 14, 2013

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R.I.P. Art Donovan

One of my favorite characters of the NFL, Art Donovan died Sunday at age 89. I have enjoyed Donovan’s storytelling since I can remember, mostly through NFL Films, but also his book “Fatso” which I used to own before lending it to someone who didn’t give it back. I later learned he had been a regular on David Letterman’s shows which got him the book deal. As for his autobiography, he “never read it.” I also remember seeing footage of him in tears when his Baltimore Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984.

Here’s a clip of him on Letterman from 1988:

Donovan, a son of the Bronx, was a Marine, serving in World War II. He was awarded the Asiatic Pacific Area Ribbon and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He also stole a case of spam and to avoid being sent to the brig, he was forced to eat all 30 pounds of it, which he did in 9 days. When his time had come, he wanted to go under a tree at his country club eat too many kosher hot dogs and drink a case of Schlitz and then explode. Based on the obituary in The Sun, that didn’t see to happen. Make sure you read that obituary too, it is a great one. Check out the NFL.com obit too, it has a great video tribute (which isn’t embeddable).

Oddly enough, DC Sports Bog has a story about the time the Washington Redskins honored him: When the Redskins honored Art Donovan

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Ground finally broken on I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike project

Officials break ground on major I-95/Turnpike linkPhillyBurbs.com
This week, a ceremonial groundbreaking was held for Stage 1 of the interchange that will connect Interstate 95 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 276) in Eastern Pennsylvania. When completed (projected to be 2018) I-95 will be rerouted onto the eastern end of the Pa. Turnpike to the New Jersey Turnpike which will finally make it continuous from Miami, Fla. to Houlton, Maine.
Interstate 276, the eastern most number for the Pennsylvania TurnpikeInterstate 95, Pennsylvania shield

The interchange (which should have been built decades ago, regardless of the decision to cancel the original I-95 alignment between Philadelphia in New York in Central New Jersey nycroads.com) was mandated by Congress in 1982. The footdragging by the Pa. Turnpike Commission has been incredible. While I understand their disappointment in having to build this because Jersey didn’t build their 30 miles of I-95, the interchange should have been there period.

By the way, the NJ and PA Turnpikes collected the most revenue last year: NJ, Pa. turnpikes collected most toll money in North America in 2012The Inky

OFFICIAL PROJECT WEB SITE

A Turnpike / I-95 Interchange ProjectPennsylvania Turnpike Commission

MORE FROM STEVE ANDERSON

Delaware Expressway (I-95)phillyroads.com

Pennsylvania Turnpike-Delaware River Extension (I-276)phillyroads.com

PREVIOUSLY

Pennsylvania Auditor general concerned about green card scheme sought for Pa. Turnpike/I-95 funding

Green card scheme sought for Pa. Turnpike/I-95 funding

NJ Turnpike expansion between exits 6 and 9 moving right along

NPR special series focuses on I-95

Is it just me or is it odd that neither the Inky or Philly Daily News covered this groundbreaking?

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The decline of NJ Turnpike exceptionalism

Generally speaking, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has its own way of doing things. Much of “Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike” covers that subject. In short, historically the Turnpike has answered only to God (if even that) and even He would have to pay the toll.

DSC_0795
© I.C. Ligget

Perhaps the most benign examples example of that is the Turnpike’s highway signs. At least in my life time, the Turnpike has avoided the typical signing convention of having an EXIT tab, The mileage to the exit is at the top of the sign, instead of the bottom too.

It is a minor quirk, possibly not even noticed by most motorists. Now, that quirk is finally being phased out and via Northeast Roads Facebook group, Lou Corsaro has a photograph to show it:

NJ_turnpike_exit_13_mutcd
© Lou Corsaro

Of greater disappointment than the introduction of exit tabs is the sunseting of the neon advisory signs.

IMG_1156
© I.C. Ligget

I believe these have been in use for most of the Turnpike’s lifetime, but they are going away. I hope several are saved for posterity.

Lastly, the Turnpike is starting to use control cities, but really, Wilmington? Baltimore and/or Washington would be better for the long-haul travelers.

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