Tag Archives: I-95

The longest north-south interstate and main highway of the East Coast. Connects Miami, Jacksonsville, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, New Haven, Providence, Boston and ends at Maine-New Brunswick, Canada border. Much of it north of Maryland is part of the early Northeast toll road network.

Praise for Mike Pettigano and Bergen Record/NorthJersey.com on breaking the Christie GWB scandal

NorthJersey-com-Christie-scandal-mike-pettigano
The allegations that officials in Gov. Chris Christie’s administration ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close some lanes of the George Washington Bridge (I-95, US 1 & 9) is disappointing on several fronts. What isn’t disappointing is that my friend and former colleague from my Gannett days (and fellow Penn State College of Communications graduate), Mike Pettigano, has been part of the Bergen Record/NorthJersey.com team breaking the story. Some of you may even remember Mike from when he was running Penn State sports blog Black Shoe Diaries or the preview magazine, We Are Penn State 2013 (He’s doing that again this year).

As for Christie, I’m disappointed the people he selected appeared to have acted in such a vindictive way. I’ll be curious to see what the Record learns about his involvement. I have great affection for the Garden State, having been born there and then visiting family, friends and of course, the Jersey Shore, regularly and I was pulling for Christie to rise in his party. Now, I’m probably not feeling that way.

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

Financing for turnpike/I-95 connector concerns auditor generalThe Inky
In not-all-surprising news, that Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 green card scheme has gotten the attention of Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

DePasquale said he was especially interested in why an entity was created to broker the deal, in which wealthy foreign investors would lend the turnpike $200 million in exchange for possible permanent residence in the United States.

DePasquale said his office was legally bound to wait until a transaction is completed before launching an audit, so “it may be several months or longer” before he formally investigates the turnpike plan.

“I am going to follow this situation carefully,” DePasquale said. “It raises some alarms. I’m not taking a position that it’s wrong yet. . . . We’ll wait till the issue is ripe for an audit.”

Interstate 276, the eastern most number for the Pennsylvania TurnpikeInterstate 95, Pennsylvania shieldYup, it is all weird.

I understand Pennsylvania being unhappy about having to build this connection since it was New Jersey that cancelled a nearly 30 mile stretch of I-95, but the Pennsylvania Turnpike should have built a connection with I-95 years ago anyway. The foot dragging has been going on for about 30 years.

Also, weren’t toll authorities designed to avoid this kind of nonsense? Perhaps raising federal and state gas taxes by a few cents might not be a bad idea either. Heaven forbid we pay several more cents per gallon (we’re paying a whopping 18.3¢ a gallon (over $3.60 where I live) right now for 21st century infrastructure.

Interstate shields courtesy of Shields Up!

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

Chinese investors to fund turnpike-I-95 connectionThe Inky
The multi-generational saga to build an interchange between the I-276/Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 95/Delaware Expressway just got weirder:

To help pay for the construction of the long-awaited connection between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-95, turnpike officials plan to borrow $200 million from wealthy foreign investors.

The investors, expected to be primarily from China, could get green cards for themselves and their families to live in the United States in exchange for their money.

Ummmm, ooookkkkkaaaayyyy.

Some background — this interchange is really, really overdue. The project manager has been working on it since 1984!

Interstate 276, the eastern most number for the Pennsylvania TurnpikeInterstate 95, Pennsylvania shieldWhen the interstate highway system was built, the Pennsylvania Turnpike avoided building direct connections with the new interstate highways. The lack of a direct connection with the eastern part of the Pa. Turnpike and I-95 became particularly troublesome when I-95 through Central New Jersey was cancelled. I-95 was to be re-routed onto the last few miles of the Pa. Turnpike to connect it with the New Jersey Turnpike. That was planned over 30 years ago. The Pennsylvania Turnpike commission has been dragging its feet on construction, because they were happy about having to build it, even though they’ll get toll revenue for it. Now, this crazy scheme.

The first part of the interchange is expected to be completed in 2017.

I still like Terry Madonna’s idea better (need to update it a little though): Madonna: Hugo Chavez should lease Pa. Turnpike

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The crumbling Beltway

Beneath the surface, the Beltway crumblesThe Post
The core infrastructure of the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495 and between Springfield, Va. and Beltsville, Md. also Interstate 95) is approaching the end of its usable life.

Under the surface of all but some recently restored segments, fissures are spreading, cracks are widening and the once-solid road bed that carries about a quarter-million cars a day is turning to mush.

In a perfect world, it would be torn up — the asphalt and concrete, and the bed of crushed stone below — right down to the bare earth. From that fresh start a new and stable highway would grow. But this is the Beltway, and closing down whole sections of it would tie one of the most congested regions in the nation into a Gordian knot.

“With the older base layers under the asphalt, the surface is not able to absorb the pounding the way it used to,” said Doug Simmons, deputy highway administrator in Maryland, home to almost two-thirds of the 64-mile Beltway and to the more serious of the highway’s problems. “It is at that 50-year age point, which is too close to [the end of its life]. It’s a good example of the challenges we’re going to be facing not only in Maryland but other places in the country.”

Two big challenges await getting the Beltway rebuilt:

  1. funding – the traditional method, the gas tax, doesn’t pull in enough funds to meet the needs and there is no political mandate to raise it to realistic levels. All sorts of ways around raising the gas tax, like multinational companies building privately financed toll roads, are being developed.
  2. The actual reconstruction would be painful, as Northern Virginia commuters experienced with the 495 Express lanes.

There is some good news – those express lanes on the Virginia side have resulted in a whole new roadway for all drivers, though the income being generated is below projections. The bad news is that the Prince George’s County side of the Beltway handles the I-95 through traffic.

Things will probably get worse before they get better.

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Official NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway merchandise likely

In the ‘what exit?’ state, famed Turnpike, Parkway logos could be marketedStar-Ledger
Several years after knockoff apparel, stickers and other tchotchkes became available, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is getting ready to sell official merchandise. Already, unauthorized vendors are selling t-shirts with the Turnpike and Parkway logos on them. Additionally, there are plenty of stickers for various exits, usually relating to the Jersey Shore, i.e. EXIT 10 for Stone Harbor. Sometimes they do a better job than others.

The trend isn’t unique to New Jersey or highways. Transit systems, especially New York’s MTA, but also Boston’s MBTA have been selling merchandise or had others doing so for some time. Metro, the D.C. area’s subway systems has had an online store in the past, but it is down currently. I saw some “incorrect US 17 stickers along the Grand Strand” last spring, while “correct” NC 12 stickers are seem with regularity on vehicles of Outer Banks partisans. Haven’t seen any MD 528 stickers for Ocean City, Md. fans though. I’m not sure I’ve seen Delaware Route 1 stickers either.

The market for this kind of stuff is clearly established and the Turnpike Authority is catching up. Perhaps they ought to loop in the Atlantic City Expressway as well. I’d like to see the same marketing happen with the interstate highway system as well. I wonder if the Pennsylvania Turnpike, New York Thruway, Mass Pike and other toll authorities will do this as well.

H/T Steve Anderson on NYCRoads.com Facebook group

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I-495 Capital Beltway express lanes losing money, saving time for some

EZ Pass Express Lanes VMS in Tysons
Recently, I overheard somebody praising the new Transurban I-495 EZ Pass Express Lanes (also known as HOT Lanes for High Occupancy or Toll) because “they respond to the marketplace in real time” or something along those lines. Overall though, the marketplace response seems to be “not interested.”

Over the first few months of operation, the EZ Pass Express Lanes have confused drivers and underperformed on the ledger.


I-495 Express Lanes Is Not Inviting To Some Drivers, According To SurveyWUSA-TV

Tolls are priced according to traffic volume (WTOP) – less cars means a lower toll to incentivize drivers to choose them and vice-versa. So far, I have only seen a few times that the toll between Tysons and Springfield topped $3. It isn’t unusual for the toll to be under $2, even during the evening rush hour.

Overall, I have been a skeptic of the whole operation — if this is such a good idea, why can’t the commonwealth of Virginia do it on its own instead of outsourcing it to foreign interests? Also, these lanes do not address the primary problem — traffic between Fairfax County, Va. and Montgomery County, Md. via the American Legion Bridge. That’s on Maryland and perhaps the state will re-evaluate its position. In that circumstance, I could see the EZ Pass Express Lanes being more successful. Most troubling is Transurban, the operator of the lanes, retains veto power over the expansion of “free” Beltway lanes. I don’t expect that to be an issue any time soon, but it isn’t good. The lack of political will to fund American transportation infrastructure is at the root of these set-ups.

I also have concern about snow removal in the EZ Pass Express Lanes, but we never get snow anymore.

On the positive side,OmniRide Tysons Express commuters are enjoying a ride that is 20 minutes shorter.

The EZ Pass Express Lanes also resulted in the reconstruction of all lanes between Springfield and Tysons which was needed. New pavement, signs and the removal of a mainline left exit ramp from the Inner Loop (I-495 north) to I-66 west are certainly welcome. That would not have happened for for some time and probably not all at once. Although I stopped driving on the Beltway daily during the construction, it was not nearly as disruptive as I thought it would be. If I were still driving that route to work, I would probably utilize the lanes from time to time, because what’s a $2 toll versus daycare late fees or getting home 15 minutes earlier in free-flowing traffic? That would certainly be a consideration.

 More EZ Pass Lanes lanes are under construction on the Shirley Highway corridor (The Post), from Garrisonville Road in Stafford County to just past Edsall Road in Fairfax County, just south of the city of Alexandria. All but the last mile or so is part of I-95, the portion north of the Springfield interchange is I-395. That will tie in well with the Beltway lanes, but probably be disruptive of the successful HOV corridor along Shirley Highway.

Just a few months is a short evaluation time for any transportation project, but I think it is fair to suggest that Transurban and Virginia have not shown that high occupancy toll lanes are silver bullet solution to traffic relief.

Interstate 95 & 395 shields courtesy of Shields Up!

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NJ Turnpike expansion between exits 6 and 9 moving right along

DSC_0264
Photo by I.C. Ligget – The control cities are weak, should be Del Mem Br/Baltimore/Washington

Working to end the bottlenecks
The Inky
The extension of the New Jersey Turnpike car-bus-truck lanes southward to Exit 6, the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange is progressing well.

Billed as the biggest ongoing roadway project in the United States, the undertaking will transform the turnpike into a 12-lane highway from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Connector at Exit 6 in Burlington County to Exit 9 in New Brunswick, where it is already that wide.

Trucks and buses will be restricted to the three outer lanes in each direction; only cars will be allowed in the three inside lanes in each direction.

Currently, about 130,000 vehicles a day use the 35-mile turnpike stretch in the work zone.

With a price tag of $2.5 billion – all of it from tolls – the widening work has created thousands of jobs on and off site since work began in 2009 and is costlier than any individual highway project that was undertaken with federal stimulus funding.

The Turnpike Authority’s chief engineer, Rich Raczynski, says the project is two-thirds complete and on target to be finished by fall 2014…

…Actual planning for the project dates to 2004, and Raczynski said the intervening financial crisis had worked in the authority’s favor.

“The economic collapse helped us,” he said. “The heavy-construction industry in the state of New Jersey basically dried up, and we were the only ones pushing work out at the time. “When you get contractors who are desperate for work, they really sharpen their pencils,” Raczynski said. “We’ve been averaging 20 percent below our estimates with the bids we’ve been getting. The actual project cost right now is lower than we anticipated.”

Left unsaid (why is it always left unsaid?) is that a big reason for the widening is the realignment of Interstate 95 along the far eastern portion to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the New Jersey Turnpike. That project, which dates back to the 1980s, continues to move along slowly. Steve Anderson of nycroads.com noted there was no apparent construction underway there yet.

So, the NJ Turnpike is going widen 35 miles of roadway — essentially a whole new road parallel to the existing one in 10 years. The PA Turnpike is taking over 30 to build an interchange and parallel crossing of the Delaware River. #NJFTW

OFFICIAL WEB SITES

A HAT TIP TO STEVE ANDERSON FOR THE LINK, CHECK OUT HIS COVERAGE