What is Restore the Corridor Wilmington?

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is in the final development stages for a significant project to rehabilitate I-95 through Wilmington starting at the I-495/I-95 split and ending north of the I-95 bridge over the Brandywine River (just north of downtown). The project includes rehabilitation of numerous bridges including the mile-long Wilmington Viaduct (elevated section) which spans the Riverfront area, several Wilmington streets and a bridge over Amtrak’s railway. Rehabilitation work on the bridges and roadway will extend the service life of the I-95 Wilmington Corridor. Construction on the three-year mainline project is set to begin in 2021.

Work will include:

  • Removing and replacing the top two inches of concrete on the bridge decks
  • Roadway resurfacing and repairs
  • Replacing deteriorating concrete traffic barriers and pavement expansion joints
  • Performing steel and concrete repairs
  • Eliminating the existing southbound I-95 on-ramp from S. Jackson Street and constructing a new southbound I-95 on-ramp from West 2nd Street
  • Highway sign structures and lighting replacement
Why is the project needed?

I-95 through Wilmington was originally constructed in 1964 with portions of the roadway and bridges widened in 1978. Several on and off ramps were constructed during this period as well.

The viaduct (elevated) bridges through Wilmington and the Brandywine River Bridge are in fair condition but require significant repairs to extend bridge life. The on and off ramps were constructed at the same time as I-95 so it makes sense to repair these areas at the same time as I-95 is repaired.

  • Existing concrete pavement between the viaduct and the Brandywine River Bridge has exceeded its useful life and requires replacement
  • The signage and lighting along the corridor do not meet current standards and require updating
  • The concrete median barrier has severe deterioration and the guardrail needs to be upgraded to meet current design and safety standards
  • Several bridges in the corridor have been identified for rehabilitation work as part of DelDOT’s bridge inspection program. It is more efficient to perform this work in conjunction with the I-95 corridor improvements

By rehabilitating these bridges, DelDOT improves its performance measures related to bridge condition by decreasing the percentage of bridge deck area in poor condition.

Will I-95 be closed?

No. There will be periods of time when specific on- or off-ramps are closed for rehabilitation, but the intention is to have at least one lane of I-95 in each direction open at all times during construction.

How long will construction last?

Several projects have already started in advance of the I-95 construction to improve the local road network and traffic flow. Several Wilmington streets are currently being paved and traffic signals in key corridors are being modified to allow remote control such that signal timing can be quickly adjusted based on actual traffic conditions. This will result in better traffic flow into and out of the city.

Advance Projects

  • SB I-95 2nd Street On-Ramp/Demolition of Jackson Street On-Ramp – Construction started on April 15, 2020. The 2nd Street ramp is currently closed. The 2nd Street ramp is currently closed. The Jackson Street ramp is scheduled to close in August of 2020. The new 2nd Street on-ramp is scheduled to open at the end of 2020.
  • Overhead Cantilever Sign Structure Replacement – Started March 2020. Estimated completion February 2021. Minimal traffic impacts.
  • Bridge Bearing Replacement – Started June 2020. Estimated completion Summer 2021. Minimal traffic impacts.
  • Early Work Contracts – There are three additional “early work” contracts scheduled to start in summer/fall 2020 to help minimize the long-term lane closures on I-95. These contracts will include installation of protective shields over over the Amtrak Railroad and City streets to ensure the safety of the public during construction, construction of roadway crossovers and shoulder reconstruction on I-95 and ordering long lead-time materials. None of the contracts will have major impacts to I-95 traffic.
  • Mainline I-95 Project – Anticipated start March 2021. Major traffic impacts estimated to occur for 2 years.
Will there be opportunities for local companies/residents to work on the project(s)?

DelDOT has awarded contracts to numerous local contractors for the early breakout work packages. These firms consistently perform work throughout the state of Delaware and employ many Delaware residents. There is a specific focus on hiring local subcontractors, suppliers, staff and craft employees in order to support the local economy as much as possible for all the I-95 Wilmington projects.

Was there consideration to “cap” or “cover” I-95 through the City of Wilmington to incorporate a park or some other type of community amenity to help reconnect the City’s east and west sides as part of the Restore the Corridor project?
Capping or covering portions of I-95 would have to go through the City of Wilmington’s prioritization process. The coordination for prioritization, funding, and environmental approval processes associated with this type of effort had the potential to significantly delay the much-needed rehabilitation of I-95 through this corridor, so capping was not included as part of the I-95 Improvements project. The proposed work for this project will not prohibit the City from constructing a cap in the future.
Will aesthetic lighting be installed under viaduct?

We are working with the City of Wilmington on enhancements around the project, including aesthetic lighting. These enhancements would be constructed as part of a follow up contract.

Will DelDOT work with Google Maps and other wayfinding programs to ensure accurate routing information is provided?

An active traffic management system will be in place at the start of construction and will provide motorists real-time traveler information so they can make informed travel decisions. As part of this system, portable changeable message signs will provide motorists approaching the work zone real-time travel conditions so they can choose to divert to an alternate route. The real-time traveler information will also be available via other media outlets including the Delaware Department of Transportation’s website (deldot.gov) and mobile app. DelDOT is working with the City of Wilmington to upgrade traffic signals to better manage diverted traffic.

Traffic is already terrible on the City streets, will traffic signals be upgraded? What other improvements will be made?

DelDOT is coordinating with the City on improvements in advance of construction. Initiatives include:

  • Opening the new Christina River Bridge and approach roads at the Riverfront, allowing traffic easy access to US 13 and I-495
  • Completing a series of projects that included traffic mitigation measures to provide better alternative access in and out of the city during construction
  • Construction of the new southbound I-95 on-ramp from Second Street in advance of the I-95 work
  • Upgrading nearly 200 traffic signals within the City and integrating them into DelDOT’s signal system to allow for real-time timing adjustment

Once these projects and initiatives are complete, traveling around Wilmington and northern New Castle County should be much more efficient.

How will accidents be dealt with during construction?

Mitigation plans are being developed with all the emergency service providers.

Will there be night work, weekend work?

There could be both depending upon the contractor’s schedule. Contractors will coordinate their activities with DelDOT and the City of Wilmington and will need to obtain Noise Waivers from the City when appropriate. The goal is to minimize impacts to residents as much as possible.

What is being done to offer more transit opportunities, bus, rail and other clean commuting options? Will there be incentives to use transit?

There are many activities going on in advance of the construction including:

  • Opening the new Wilmington Transit Center near the Wilmington Train Station to improve public transportation services in Wilmington and northern New Castle County
  • Raising awareness of our improved technology for utilizing public transportation which includes our DART mobile payment app, real-time bus information, and offering free Wi-Fi service on fixed route buses
  • Expanding hours of DART operations on weekends and additional holiday service
  • Creating a dedicated bus lane on portions of US 13 northbound to allow for expedited public transit into Wilmington
  • Opening of the North Middletown Park & Ride
  • DART’s RideShare Delaware will work directly with businesses to customize commuting option programs so businesses can pilot and implement continuity plans prior to the 2021 project start date
  • DART’s RideShare Delaware will also focus on employees and conduct outreach activities at their places of employment to educate employees on their clean-commute options and provide project updates
  • Opening the Newark Regional Transportation Center at the Newark Train Station, west of Route 896 in Newark, to offer expanded amenities for the growing number of local train commuters
  • Expanding parking at the Fairplay Station at Churchmans Crossing to accommodate new ridership for those choosing to use SEPTA to commute to and from Wilmington and Philadelphia
  • DART will hold Community Conversations and Public Hearing Workshops to gain feedback on changes to route alignments
Are there incentives for the contractor to finish early?

DelDOT is working on final details and innovative ideas with the contractor to reduce the duration of major traffic impacts. This includes innovations to the construction details so the rehabilitation can be built more efficiently as well as contractual language to provide financial incentives for early completion and financial disincentives for late completion. DelDOT has also hired a pre-construction manager to help reduce the risk of late completion.

Are you improving pedestrian safety in the areas of the new 2nd Street ramp, Lancaster Ave., bridges over I-95, etc.?

We are working with the City of Wilmington on enhancements around the project, including aesthetic lighting. These enhancements would be constructed as part of a follow up contract. Improvements to sidewalks and curb ramps are also underway in and around the city.

Can you determine the length of time to travel through the work zone?

Analysis shows that if 30% of current motorists take an alternate route to I-95, the expected delay will be around 15 minutes. If no one diverts from I-95, the delay increases to about 1 hour. Once construction begins, motorists will be able to see real time traffic updates on the DelDOT traffic app and other traffic apps such as Google and Waze.

Will there be signage to direct motorists to the Riverfront, downtown, etc.?

Motorists will be encouraged to use I-495 to get into Wilmington. Destinations will be signed from I-495 into the City.

Is there a public outreach/education plan?

Yes. DelDOT will periodically hold public meetings and will provide project updates via social media, NextDoor, email and the project website - RestoreTheCorridor.com. The public can sign up to receive updates at RestoreTheCorridor.com.

Additionally, DART’s RideShare Delaware will conduct on-site outreach activities with local businesses to educate employers and employees on clean-commute options as well as provide project updates.

Have there been studies to determine the impact to local streets?

Yes. As a result, signals are being upgraded, lanes and interchanges reconfigured, and roadways re-paved.

Is there a noise abatement plan?

We are currently working with the City to balance noise restrictions with the need to work extended hours to reduce the duration of the contract.

What happens to the basketball courts?

Two temporary courts will be built adjacent to Jackson Street prior to the start of roadway/bridge rehabilitation so that the existing courts can be closed for safety and used for contractor access. The temporary courts are scheduled to be completed in 2020 in advance of the major construction work to ensure there is minimal disruption to their availability for public use. DelDOT is currently discussing with the City what to do with the temporary courts after project completion.

Will there be posted detours?

I-95 will remain open for the duration of the project, with the exception of limited overnight closures or limited weekend closures for major traffic shifts. On- and off-ramps will have their closures staggered throughout the project duration, with City ingress and egress maintained through other ramps. For any closure, we will have the detour route posted and major public outreach will be made to alert motorists in advance of the closure.