Delaware Turnpike

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Delaware Turnpike marker

Delaware Turnpike
Route information
Maintained by DelDOT
Length: 13.68 mi (22.02 km)
Existed: 1963 – present
Component
highways:
I‑95 from Newark to Newport
I‑295 from Newport to New Castle
US 202 in Newport
Major junctions
South end: I‑95 at the Maryland state line
  DE 896 near Newark
DE 1 / DE 7 in Christiana
I‑95 / US 202 / DE 141 near Newport
North end: I‑295 / US 13 / US 40 in New Castle
Location
Counties: New Castle
Highway system
Routes in Delaware

The Delaware Turnpike, also known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, is a 13.68-mile (22.02 km) long tolled highway that lies entirely within the state of Delaware.[1] Running in a general southwest to northeast direction, paralleling nearby U.S. Route 40 (US 40), the highway connects the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with Philadelphia (via Interstate 95, I-95) and New York City (via the New Jersey Turnpike). It is the 3rd most expensive toll road in the United States based on a cost-per-mile average.[2]

The Delaware Turnpike was built between 1960 and 1963 and was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on November 15, 1963, just one week before his assassination in the Dallas motorcade. The highway is designated as I-95 between the Maryland state line and Newport, Delaware and as I-295 between Newport and the Farnhurst interchange with US 13 and US 40. It is owned and maintained by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) except for a short stretch approaching the US 13 interchange which is maintained by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) as part of the approach to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The DRBA assumes maintenance at a soon-to-be removed bridge over an abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad right-of-way. Unofficially, the Delaware Turnpike continues on I-295 and US 40 to the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which connects to the New Jersey Turnpike.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The history of the Delaware Turnpike goes back to the 1950s when the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and the New Jersey Turnpike were opened between 1953 and 1957. Originally, the State of Delaware wanted to build a four-lane toll highway that paralleled the present-day US 13/US 40 highway in New Castle, Delaware, connecting to a corresponding toll highway in Maryland in what is now US 301. With the formation of the Interstate Highway System, the predecessor of the present-day DelDOT and the Maryland Transportation Authority decided to build a route that would provide a more direct connection with Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Because of a fallout between the governors of both Delaware and Maryland and the Eisenhower Administration, both the MTA and DelDOT decided to build their sections of I-95, but unlike the earlier Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes, the Delaware Turnpike and John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway in Maryland would be built up to the Interstate Highway standards of its day. Unlike the narrow median strip of the Pennsylvania Turnpike or the Jersey barrier of the New Jersey Turnpike, both the Delaware Turnpike and John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway featured wide median barriers (since narrowed due to road expansion projects), two 15-foot (4.6 m) wide travel lanes (at the time of completion), and a unified exit numbering system. Three service plazas, two in Maryland and one near Newark, Delaware, straddle the middle of the roadway.

The Delaware Turnpike served as one of few examples of the building of a toll highway in the era of the building of a nationwide Interstate Highway network. Other highway authorities, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, had highway expansion projects in the planning stages when the Interstate Highway Act was signed, but were dropped in favor of the Interstate Highway system, with most of the former planned Pennsylvania Turnpike routes becoming Interstate Highways in their own right. With federal funds given to both Maryland and Delaware under both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, all other sections of I-95 in Maryland (between the Capital Beltway and Baltimore) and Delaware (between the Delaware Turnpike and the Pennsylvania state line) were built as non-tolled freeways.

Extensions studied[edit]

In the 1970s, DelDOT studied a plan to rebuild US 13 into a so-called "Dover Extension" that would connect the main highway with the state capital with a high-speed roadway. Local opposition, especially farmers, killed the original Dover Extension project but it would be resurrected in the 1980s and would become the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway (signed as Delaware Route 1, DE 1), which was completed by DelDOT in 2003.

Another extension, using most of the original Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Delaware Memorial Bridge route and signed as US 301, would have used what is now DE 896 between Newark and Summit Bridge and a new right-of-way parallel to, but west of DE  896 between Summit Bridge and the present-day US 301 highway in Maryland. Despite the high hopes of this US 301 extension being built (the Summit Bridge itself and its approaches, completed in 1960, were built to highway standards), local opposition forced DelDOT to abandon its plans for the US 301 extension in the 1990s, resurrecting it in 2006 as the planned relocation of US 301 that will connect the present-day US 301 highway in Maryland with the DE 1 Turnpike near St. Georges.

Tolls[edit]

The Delaware Turnpike is the 3rd most expensive toll road in the United States (excluding toll bridges and tunnels), based on cost-per-mile average.[2] As of 1 October 2007, tolls on the Delaware Turnpike are $4.00 in each direction; 35.7 cents per mile (increased from $3.00, or 26.8 cents per mile), collected at the Newark toll plaza near the Maryland state line. (Considering that the only toll point is at the state line, the actual distance tolled is approximately 3.12 miles from DE-896 to MD-279, which comes to approximately $1.28 per mile.) Like most toll highways in the northeast U.S., toll collection is done either with cash fare or with E-ZPass electronic toll collection. Prior to 1976, tolls were collected on the Delaware Turnpike's three exits (DE 896, DE 273, and what is now DE 1/DE 7), but have since been removed, their former locations marked with straight wide sections on entrance or exit ramps where the tolls were collected. The Delaware Turnpike toll plaza is often shunpiked by way of parallel local roads.[3] In the summer of 2011, reconstruction of the Delaware Turnpike toll plaza was completed in a $32.6 million project, adding high-speed E-ZPass lanes.[4]

Design[edit]

Southbound Delaware Turnpike in Christiana, 0.75 miles (1.21 km) from the interchange with DE 273.

Originally opened with a total of four travel lanes (two in each direction), the highway currently has a total of eight travel lanes between the mainline toll plaza and the Del. Turnpike–DE 1/DE 7 interchange, and ten travel lanes (five in each direction) between the DE 1/DE 7 interchange and the triple interchange with I-295, the I-95 freeway to Wilmington, Delaware, and I-495 to the Port of Wilmington and Philadelphia, making it one of the widest roadways in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area (a distinction held by I-76 between the Walt Whitman Bridge and I-295 and New Jersey Route 42 in Camden, New Jersey). A short three-lane section of the highway exists between the mainline toll plaza and the Maryland state line, but with the planned toll plaza total rebuild project, both DelDOT and the MdTA have plans of expanding their corresponding highways between the toll plaza and Maryland Route 279 to eight lanes, eliminating traffic snarls that plague the highway.

The fifth lane, added in 2008, is part of an expansion project that was started by DelDOT in 2005 with the eventual goal of rebuilding the Del. Turnpike–DE 1/DE 7 interchange from its current "classic cloverleaf" configuration to a new configuration featuring multi-lane high-speed (45–55 miles per hour or 72–89 kilometres per hour) flyover ramps similar in nature to the flyover ramps being designed for the proposed interchange between I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Bristol, Pennsylvania. Since the opening of the added lanes in fall 2008, DelDOT has been able to better handle heavy traffic between Wilmington and Churchmans Crossing during peak travel times, although some traffic backups still occur due to the ramp restrictions.

Interchanges[edit]

Prior to 1982, the Delaware Turnpike shared an exit numbering system with that of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway in Maryland, which has since become a non-toll highway (except at the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge, in which a one-way toll [northbound] is still charged). The exit numbers adopted after 1982 are similar to those used on most Northeastern Interstate highways, and unlike the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway (DE 1), are numbered sequentially. A median service area with several gas stations and restaurants exists between exits 1 and 3. Also, ramp tolls existed on exits 1, 3, and 4 (on-ramps exiting southbound or entering northbound), but were removed in 1978. There are talks about reinstating the ramp tolls at exits 1 and 3 in the future to pay for a major upgrade project at exit 4 to replace the current "classic cloverleaf" interchange with high-speed fly-over ramps.

There is no exit 2. That never-built exit was to have connected to either a new US 301 bypass around Newark that would have allowed US 301 to connect with US 1 (its parent highway) in Pennsylvania or the proposed Pike Creek Expressway.

Services[edit]

Main entrance to the current Delaware House, opened in 2010.

A full-service plaza informally known as Delaware House is located between the DE 896 and DE 273 interchanges. Prior to 2008, this plaza offered food, gas, and bathroom services, along with an information center located near the north entrance. Food services in the original Delaware House included a Bob's Big Boy, Roy Rogers (one of the few remaining in the Philadelphia metro area), Sbarro pizzeria, and a Starbucks. Fuel services were provided by Sunoco (formerly Mobil) which occupied a plot at the southern end of the plaza. Exxon had a station at the northern end.

The plaza is maintained by HMSHost Corporation through an agreement with the State of Delaware and provides the same services to the service plazas owned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (which includes the Garden State Parkway), and the South Jersey Transportation Authority (for the Atlantic City Expressway).

On September 3, 2008, DelDOT announced that in spring 2009, construction would begin on a new travel plaza on the same site as the original Delaware House, which would be demolished prior to the start of construction. On September 3, 2009, DelDOT announced that Delaware House would close on September 8, so that construction could begin on the new welcome center. It was opened in June 2010.[5]

The new center now includes a main facility of approximately 43,000 square feet (4,000 m2) of space with a Delaware Tourism information center, a Z-Market gift shop which replaces the original Travel Mart, a Famous Famiglia Pizzeria (which replaces Sbarro), and Burger King (which replaced Roy Rogers). Fast food outlets Popeyes, Carvel, Brioche Dorée, and Baja Fresh were also added while Starbucks and Cinnabon were retained from the previous facility. The Sunoco station was rebuilt at the northern end of the service area. Free wireless Internet access, which was previously not offered in the Delaware House, is now available throughout the Welcome Center and in the parking lot.[6] There is also a Best Buy Express kiosk which sells electronic devices.

Exit list[edit]

The entire route is in New Castle County.

Location Mile[7] km Exit Destinations Notes
Newark 0.00 0.00 I‑95 south (John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) – Baltimore Southern terminus; I-95 continues into Maryland
0.54 0.87 Newark Toll Plaza ($4.00)
2.34 3.77 1 DE 896 to US 301 – Newark, Middletown Split into exits 1A (south) and 1B (north) southbound
5.10 8.21 Delaware Welcome Center
6.63 10.67 3 DE 273 – Newark, Dover Split into exits 3A (east) and 3B (west) northbound
Christiana 7.89 12.70 4A DE 1 / DE 7 south / Mall Road – Christiana, Dover, Beaches
8.13 13.08 4B DE 1 / DE 7 north to DE 58 – Churchmans Crossing, Stanton New flyover ramps opened recently; old exits demolished, access to Christiana Hospital
Newport 10.56 16.99 5A US 202 south / DE 141 south to US 13 – New Castle Southern terminus of concurrency with US 202
11.50 18.51 5B DE 141 north – Newport
11.75 18.91 5C I‑95 north / US 202 north – Wilmington, Philadelphia Northern terminus of concurrency with I-95 / US 202
Farnhurst 13.68 22.02 US 13 / US 40 west – New Castle Airport, Dover, Wilmington
13.68 22.02 I‑295 north / US 40 east to NJ Tpk. – Delaware Memorial Bridge, New York, New Jersey Northern terminus; I-295 / US 40 continue north
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing