July 2007


Quebec City is the capital of Canada’s French-speaking Quebec province. The city celebrates its 400th anniversary next year, and has the only city walls in North America north of Mexico that still stand. But how to the freeways stack up? Well, they dont really “stack” but there are quite a few of them for a city of about 750,000.

Autoroute 73 forms the main route in from the south, and connects QC with Maine. I’m assuming the yellow tabs indicate exit only, as it is never expressly stated. Instead of the American A,B,C exits – these get the French O,E treatment for the cardinal directions. This view looks northbound just before the river, a little bit of the city’s skyline is showing to the right. The A20 is the Trans-Canada Highway, but its barely signed if at all through here.
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The 2008 State Budget for Delaware passed this Summer and in it are changes that will affect many drivers through Delaware. At stake in the $3.28-billion budget are increases in tolls on both Interstate 95 at the Delaware state line and the SR 1 Turnpike between Dover and Christiana. Tolls for Interstate 95 will increase from $3.00 per passenger vehicle to $4.00. Each of the SR 1 Turnpike plaza tolls will double from $1 per passenger vehicle to $2 on weekends but remain the same on weekdays. Late-night EZ Pass discounts for Interstate 95 will be eliminated. Frequent commuter EZ Pass discounts for the SR 1 Turnpike however will remain. These announcements were made official with signing of the budget and toll increases take effect October 1.

In a related toll increase, the Delaware River & Bay Authority (DRBA) voted July 17, 2007 to increase the commercial vehicle toll on the Delaware Memorial Bridge from $3.00 to $4.00 per axle starting in January 2008. A second toll increase is expected in 2010 to pay for $300 million in future projects such as redecking the bridges. Justification of the initial tolls increases will add $11 million per year to the DRBA project. Items on their project list include $21.5 million to widen the Interstate 295 approach to the bridge including adding lanes at the U.S. 13 & 40 interchange at Farnhurst, replacing the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge, and road work on the roadway to the Cape May Lewes Ferry (also operated by the DRBA).

Interstate 295 only carries four overall lanes through the Farnhurst interchange with U.S. 13 & 40. Toll increases will pay for expansion of the freeway to six overall lanes at the directional interchange. Photo taken May 19, 2007.

What is not proposed for Delaware is the building of high-speed EZ-Pass only express or commuter lanes for Interstate 95. Robert Poole, director of transportation studies for the nonprofit Reason Foundation in California, states that Interstate 95 is not feasible for high-speed toll lanes because it has too many exits. Yet Interstate 394 in Minneapolis, a freeway shorter than the Delaware Turnpike, with four freeway to freeway interchanges, six full access interchanges, and two half interchanges, supports them efficiently. EZ Pass express lanes could easily carry through traffic without any destination in Delaware, such as those traveling between Baltimore-Washington and the New Jersey Turnpike via the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Such high-speed lanes could be constructed on an elevated viaduct, similar to Interstate 110 in Los Angeles or the Crosstown Expressway in Tampa

Delaware Transportation Department spokesman Darrel Cole indicates that the toll increases get DelDOT one step closer to rebuilding the ailing cloverleaf interchange between Delaware 1 and Interstate 95. However changes to that interchange are years away, so his statement will not resonate with drivers until actual work begins. A widening project of Interstate 95 between Delaware 1 & 7 and the split with Interstate 295 however began this year to add one additional travel lane in each direction.

Sources:

  1. “State budget raises taxes, tolls and fees.” The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), June 21, 2007.
  2. “Toll Increase On Delaware Memorial Bridge.” WBOC-TV 16, July 18, 2007.
  3. “Pricey stretch of I-95 about to get pricier.” The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), July 8, 2007.
  4. Froehlig, Adam

A recent trip from Florida to Biloxi shed some light on new and ongoing construction projects throughout the upper Gulf Coast. First, a widening project is well underway now along Interstate 10 through the Tallahassee area. Dubbed “Moving I-10 Forward”, the work involves widening the freeway between milepost 194 and Exit 202, reconstructing the U.S. 27 half-cloverleaf interchange with more graceful ramps, and adding new ramps between Interstate 10 and U.S. 319 opposite the existing diamond interchange with Florida 61. Work began in the Fall of 2006 and will last through mid-2009. See http://www.movingi-10forward.com/ for project details, design schematics, and schedule.

Drivers along congested U.S. 319 northbound soon will be provided with a direct on-ramp to Interstate 10 west. Presently, motorists must maneuver onto adjacent Florida 61 to access Interstate 10 at the nearby diamond interchange; A flyover from the separation of U.S. 319 south from Florida 61 south complicates the adjacent intersection. Photo taken July 13, 2007.

Further west, I finally had the opportunity to travel across the “Crooked Bridge” over Escambia Bay. The Escambia Bay Bridges of Interstate 10 took a beating during September 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. Many segments of the bridge deck were toppled into the Bay or destroyed. Road work commenced soon after on temporarily reopening the ailing spans and the construction of their replacement. The first of two “Crooked Bridges” opened earlier this year and now carries four lanes of overall traffic. Crews continue building the future westbound span while also dismantling the original twin spans.

Traveling the new “Crooked Bridge” of Interstate 10 westbound over Escambia Bay at Pensacola. A good portion of the deck for the future westbound-only span is complete nearby; further away crews continue on the removal of the original twin spans. Photo taken July 13, 2007.

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