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VIDEO: Major Construction Has Started On Newark, Del.'s I-95/State Highway 896 Project

Wed May 10, 2023 - Northeast Edition #12 & DelDOT

A 26-month project to overhaul one of Delaware's most dangerous interchanges has started near the town of Newark, the state's Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced.

The focus of the Interstate 95 and Delaware Highway 896 Interchange Project is to decrease the amount, frequency and severity of accidents through the corridor. The reconfiguration of the interchange will improve the I-95 traffic affected by merging and diverging through and entering/exiting traffic, according to DelDOT.

The I-95 and Del. 896 interchange was the site of 527 crashes, including two involving fatalities, between February 2017 and February 2020, averaging just under one crash every two days, reported, the online site for radio station WDEL in Wilmington.

Before the pandemic altered commute patterns, traffic often backed up on southbound I-95 leading to the southbound Del. 896 (Middletown) ramp, which led to several accidents, including a September 2019 wreck involving a tractor trailer hitting a pickup at full speed. Two people died in that crash, and a third was seriously injured.

Recently, DelDOT worked to remove a tricky merge pattern for southbound Del. 896/South College Avenue traffic exiting Newark, which had to shuffle in and out of the right lane with the traffic entering from southbound I-95, often bringing all traffic to a stop as drivers were confused over the merging procedure.

Now, exiting traffic from I-95 can use new and dedicated short acceleration lanes as Del. 896 goes down to a single lane approaching the freeway.

DelDOT plans to eliminate some of those bottlenecks by widening I-95 in the area, constructing new bridges and building a multi-use trail over I-95 — the first of its kind in Delaware — that officials hope will eventually lead to a connection between Newark and Glasgow.

In addition, I-95 southbound traffic will access a new flyover ramp to get to Del. 896 southbound, like what is in use at the I-95/Del. 273 interchange, while another flyover will get southbound Del. 896 traffic onto northbound I-95.

The first ramp is expected to be completed during the summer of 2024, with the second ramp slated to be done by the end of that year.

Other construction along the corridor will include:

  • A 1-mi.-long widening of I-95 northbound and southbound to allow for the new ramp acceleration/deceleration lanes.
  • The expansion of three mainline I-95 bridges for new ramps.
  • The construction of six new bridges.
  • Ten retaining walls are scheduled to be built.
  • New highway sign structures, lighting, and Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS) infrastructure will be installed in and around the I-95 and Del. 896 interchange.
  • Rehabilitation work for existing bridges on I-95 and Del. 896
Newark Highway Work Another in Series of Recent Projects

The work officially began on the evening of May 7, when multiple lanes on southbound I-95 between Del. 72 and Del. 896 were closed.

The interstate will mostly remain open during the project, although the ramp from northbound I-95 to Del. 896 will have extended closures.

The Del. 896 southbound ramp to I-95 southbound ramp heading toward Baltimore, Md. is due to be shut down for a large chunk of the project. Traffic will be diverted to Maryland Highway 279/Elkton Road to get to I-95 southbound.

Delaware Highway 72 also will be affected by this project, as work will be needed for the I-95 bridge over the state road, which does not have an interchange with the freeway. As a result, traffic on Del. 72 will be limited to one lane in each direction from this summer to Summer 2024 under the interstate.

The entire construction effort is another in a series of major I-95 projects in Delaware, which have included adding a fifth lane to the freeway in Churchmans Marsh north of the Christiana Mall, Restore the Corridor in Wilmington, and the addition of lanes on the Brandywine River Bridge and Del. 202 interchange.

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