DelDOT is planning to steal a page from neighboring states as they strive to keep drivers better informed ahead of next month's beginning of a major I-95 rehabilitation project in Wilmington.
Whitman, Requardt and Associates Project Manager Bill Geschrei told a virtual town hall audience on Thursday night that they have been working to put speed sensors on various roadways, to give a sense or truer travel times.
"DelDOT has been installing traffic monitoring devices on all the alternative major routes in and out of the city and within the city to be able to use that data to real-time modify traffic signal timing based on current traffic conditions."
Geschrei said besides the traffic signals, it gives Delaware the opportunity to use variable message signs like the Maryland Department of Transportation has done for years, giving estimated times to various points or using various routes.
"It will give travel time info on the time to enter the city using I-95 and the alternative route. This will enable motorists to make an informed decision on which route to take, which will reduce the overall congestion associated with this project."
That information will be vital as long-term I-95 lane closures begin on February 12. The first phase will put all traffic in the existing southbound lanes, with two lanes going in both directions, with no shoulders.
That leaves a limited margin of error in case of crashes, and Whitman's Neil Leary said they have been working with the construction companies on how to react if the inevitable crash or disabled vehicle gets stuck in a tight spot.
"There will be tow trucks on site. One of the things we will work on is where we can stage the tow truck so it is the most efficient way for it to respond to a breakdown or incident anywhere within the corridor's limits."
Leary added those tow trucks will be there from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on-call the rest of the time.
In terms of alternate routes, DelDOT did not want to get into specific relief routes for every type of commute into the city, but Leary strongly urged using the Wilmington Bypass, which has three lanes for its entire length and rarely jams in normal traffic.
"I can't stress that enough. I-495 has excess capacity. We want people to use those routes as the primary diversion to get in and out of the city. 495 and 13 are two great routes that can supplement the additional loss on I-95."
Questions about off-ramps were also asked. Traffic the normally uses Martin Luther King Boulevard to exit the city will need to use the new 2nd Street ramp, as the ramp to I-95 SB will actually be converted into a ramp allowing NB I-95 traffic to enter the city. There will be no I-95 NB exit for Delaware Avenue in Phase 1A.
All southbound I-95 exits will be maintained, at least for the opening phase, that is scheduled to run until Fall 2021.
Traffic trying to get onto I-95 NB from Wilmington will be required to use the Adams Street on-ramp at Delaware Avenue, or work its way over to Concord Avenue.
DelDOT has also taken control over the over 200 traffic signals in Wilmington, and they will have the ability to alter timing based on real-time delays as they begin to see how traffic patterns change.
You can learn more about Phase 1 of the Restore the Corridor project at the DelDOT website.