What is Restore the Corridor Wilmington?

Restore the Corridor Wilmington is a significant DelDOT transportation project along 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 started in February 2021.

Work includes:

  • 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?

Major construction began in February 2021 and is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2023.

Are there opportunities for local companies/residents to work on the project(s)?

DelDOT awarded contracts to numerous local contractors for the early breakout work packages. Additionally, Kiewit, the project’s contractor, has sub-contracted to several local firms to perform rehabilitation work as part of the project and made efforts to hire locally for open craft construction positions.

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 work for this project will not prohibit the City from constructing a cap in the future.

Will aesthetic lighting be installed under viaduct?

DelDOT is 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.

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

An active traffic management system is in place that provides motorists real-time traveler information so they can make informed travel decisions. As part of this system, changeable message signs 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 is also available via other media outlets including the Delaware Department of Transportation’s website (deldot.gov) and mobile app. DelDOT also worked with the City of Wilmington to upgrade traffic signals to better manage diverted traffic.

Traffic is already terrible on the City streets; have traffic signals been upgraded? What other improvements were made?

DelDOT coordinated with the City on improvements in advance of construction. Initiatives included:

  • 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 2nd Street in advance of the I-95 work
  • Upgraded nearly 200 traffic signals within the City and integrated them into DelDOT’s signal system real time phasing adjustments. This allows signal timing to be changed from a remote location rather than requiring a technician to manually make changes at the signal cabinet. Timing adjustment sheets have been prepared in advance so that changes can be made quickly if certain scenarios arise.
How are accidents being dealt with during construction?

DelDOT and local emergency services providers developed emergency response plans that are implemented whenever accidents occur in the construction zone. These plans include how emergency providers can access the project site depending on where the accident occurs, protocols for closures, etc.

Will there be night work, weekend work?

There will likely be both night and weekend work during certain periods of construction depending upon the contractor’s schedule and how the project is progressing. Contractors will coordinate their activities with DelDOT and the City of Wilmington and will 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 like bus, rail and other clean commuting options?

In an effort to offer enhanced transit services, DelDOT and DART completed many transit activities prior to the start of 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 is working directly with businesses to customize commuting option programs
  • DART’s RideShare Delaware is focusing on employees and conducting 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
Are there incentives for the contractor to finish early?

This project was procured using the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) contracting method, by which a contractor (Kiewit) was selected using a qualifications-based selection process. The contractor is engaged during the design phase to provide innovations, manage risks, and identify efficiencies during construction. As a result of this process, incentives were not included in the contract. However, there are significant penalties included in the contract should the I-95 mainline traffic impacts extend beyond the two years that DelDOT committed to since the early stages of the project.

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

DelDOT is 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.

Is there signage directing motorists to the Riverfront, downtown, etc.?

Motorists are encouraged to use I-495 to get into Wilmington. Destinations are signed from I-495 into the City. Additionally, alternative routes to major destinations in the City as well as north and south of the City are provided on the project website: restorethecorridor.com

Is there an ongoing 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 also sign up to receive text messages or email alerts at restorethecorridor.com.

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

Is there a noise abatement plan?

DelDOT is continually working with the City, neighborhood associations, local legislators, and the contractor 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 were built adjacent to Jackson Street prior to the start of roadway/bridge rehabilitation so that the existing courts could be closed for safety and contractor access. These temporary courts will be removed as part of the future contract to complete the repairs of the viaduct substructure (abutments and piers). These areas will likely be seeded and landscaped, although final details are still being developed.

Are there detours posted?

I-95 will remain open for the duration of the project, with the exception of limited overnight closures, weekend closures for major traffic shifts, and unplanned traffic incidents. On- and off-ramp closures will be staggered throughout the project duration, with City ingress and egress maintained. Detour routes will be posted for all planned closures or major impacts to traffic with advance public outreach performed to alert motorists in advance of the closure.

What is the average travel time through the construction zone?

The average travel time to traverse through the construction zone is between 10-15 minutes on I-95 Northbound, and 10-16 minutes on I-95 Southbound. This is an increase of 2-5 minutes when compared to pre-construction travel times.

When will traffic be shifted over to the area that is currently under construction?

It is anticipated that traffic will be shifted over to the newly reconstructed lanes before the end of 2021.