Newark – Governor Ruth Ann Minner, Transportation Secretary Carolann Wicks, U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, U.S. Congressman Michael N. Castle, state officials, as well as corporate, construction and community leaders gathered this afternoon as the Department of Transportation (DelDOT) hosted a commemoration at the I-95 Service Plaza to recognize the history of the I-95 transportation corridor.
Held at 2 p.m., under a tent at the north end of the service plaza, the event, while focusing upon the completion of both the I-95 Fifth Lane Project and the pavement overlay of I-95 from Route 202 to the Pennsylvania border, also paid tribute to the multimodal transportation advances of the corridor.
Several speakers will express their support for a federal stimulus package for infrastructure, such as road and transit projects, and discuss the importance of such jobs on the economy. DelDOT Secretary Wicks, a licensed engineer, has also taken a leadership role among her peers in advocating for a stimulus package and helping frame the criteria by which infrastructure projects would qualify for funding. Wicks is President of the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials (NASTO).
The importance of the I-95 transportation corridor was stressed by Governor Ruth Ann Minner. “In today’s economy the benefits of increased funding for transportation are not limited to providing better roadways and transit — these projects create high-paying jobs for Delawareans. Our continued investment in transportation projects is essential to the economy. I know firsthand that investing in infrastructure provides job creation, longer-term stability and helps ensure the nation’s safety and competitiveness. Delaware is no different, as evidenced by the support of the many partners we have here today from tourism to construction and business.”
With daily traffic counts between the State Route 1 exit onto I-95 and Wilmington exceeding 250,000 vehicles per day, the recently completed Fifth Lane Project, added a fifth lane along I-95 in both the northbound and southbound directions. This improvement marked a necessary and major improvement of traffic flow to the interstate system. Started in May 2007, R.E Pierson Construction of New Jersey was able to complete this project in less time and for less money than originally estimated.
DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks said many projects have been completed that have improved the corridor such as interchange projects and road widenings, while major transit expansion has resulted in more bus and train ridership, thereby keeping vehicles off the roadway. “As was so well put decades ago, this roadway remains the main street of the East Coast. Our challenge to keep improving conditions where and when we can is no small task. The traffic volumes predicted in 2010 were reached by 1995. Add to that the funding challenges we face, and the obstacles multiply. We must continue to work together on the local, state and federal level to push forward for improving this corridor.”
The event recognized the unique history of this corridor, including the first person in 1659 to traverse and map the corridor that hundreds of years later became I-95. On display were posters, information, artifacts, and compilations of the many road projects over the years, along with details of forthcoming projects. Also highlighted were the many improvements to alternative transportation that have helped keep vehicles off the corridor, including train service, bus route expansions.
On display, the history of the I-95 Transportation corridor included:
• I-95 Dedication November 14, 1963 – President John F. Kennedy…his last public speech for a public works project before his assassination.
• I-95/SR-896 Interchange Improvements – Rehabilitation of the ramps within the I-95/896 interchange.
• Churchmans Road Bridge of I-95 – Rebuilding the Churchmans Road Bridge over
• I-95 to provide the needed span for the construction of the 5th lane on I-95.
• I-95 Fifth Lane Project – Construction of a fifth lane alone I-95 from the Rt-1 intersection to the I-495 split.
• Repaving I-95 from Rt-202 Exit to the Pennsylvania border.
• Newark Transit Hub
• Weekend bus service
• Churchmans Crossing and Claymont stations
• Shellpot Branch Railroad Bridge, allowing freight to the Port of Wilmington
• Rideshare expansion
• Newark and Wilmington Trolleys
• Wilmington Train Station Parking Garage
Other scheduled improvements include:
• I-95 Delaware Welcome Center & Service Plaza – Total reconstruction and modernization of the Welcome Center & Service Plaza along I-95.
• I-95/SR-1 Interchange – Construct a high speed connecting ramps from both northbound SR-1 to northbound I-95 and from southbound I-95 to southbound SR-1.
• I-95 Newark Toll Plaza – Construction of multiple highway speed E-ZPass lanes through the I-95 Newark Toll Plaza – (two phase project).
• Bus/Rail/Alternative Transportation
1. Northeast corridor 3rd rail
2. Newark Train Station
3. Rail passenger cars
In addition to Governor Minner and Transportation Secretary Wicks, other speakers included: U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper; U.S. Congressman Michael N. Castle; Linda Parkowski, Tourism Director, Delaware Economic Development Office; Hassan Raza, Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration; George Schoener, Executive Director, I-95 Corridor Coalition; Beverley V. Baxter, Executive Director, Committee of 100; John J. McMahon Jr., Executive Vice President, Delaware Contractors Association; Ralph Farabaugh, Construction Manager, R.E. Pierson Construction Co.; and Michael Jones, Vice President, Business Development, HMSHost.
For more information, visit DelDOT’s Web site at @link href=’http://www.deldot.gov’target=”_blank”>www.deldot.gov/link.