As the winter days grow longer, it can be fun to start planning a spring break or summer vacation. But, while meant to be fun, these trips can quickly turn stressful with delayed or canceled flights. You might consider trading your wings for wheels if a repeat of the thousands of flight cancellations over the past holiday season has you worried. While you may avoid cancellations by driving, know there is still a chance for some turbulence to pop up in your journey. Owing to planned summer road construction projects across the country, you may experience detours and slowdowns. However, with knowledge of scheduled roadworks, you can chart a course that will get you to that resort no more stressed than when you left home.
I-95 – WILMINGTON, DELAWARE
Restore the Corridor is the Delaware Department of Transportation's (DelDOT) project to extend the life of 19 bridges, including the Wilmington Viaduct, by at least 30 years. The project will also resurface the roadways, replace deteriorated concrete barriers, and update lighting and signage.
Now in its second phase, this project has the potential to slow down travel between some of the east coast's most famous cities: Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. During Phase Two of construction, scheduled through February 2023, only two travel lanes will be open in each direction, both within the newly repaired northbound lanes.
On the Viaduct itself, southbound traffic will be split. One lane will flow in its usual position on the southbound side, and one lane will travel against traffic on the north side.
As you progress through the construction zone, mind your speed. During Phase One of the project, there was a 49% increase in accidents within the area. Better yet, avoid it altogether if possible. You might consider I-495 or check traffic conditions on the DelDOT app before travel.
I-44 in Oklahoma. Courtesy of Oklahoma Department of Transportation
I-44/US-75 – TULSA, OKLAHOMA
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has embarked on a six-plus-year project to completely reconstruct the I-44/US-75 interchange. Currently, the "collision rates on I-44 and US-75 in this area are over four times the state average for similar highways." Additionally, the section of I-44 under construction "is the oldest section of interstate in Oklahoma." The project is focused on accommodating anticipated traffic growth and ensuring safety.
The project will see I-44 expanded by two lanes, and "three of the four existing loop ramps will be replaced with direct connection, flyover bridges." The first Work Package is currently underway.
The first Work Package is scheduled through Spring 2023, but a recent news report indicated workers are ahead of schedule and may finish early.
As you approach the construction site, watch for changing lanes and signage and be careful when entering the highway. Recent news reports indicate many accidents that may have to do with merging onto the roadway.
Construction continues on I-66 in Virginia. Photo Courtesy of VDOT
I-66 – FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA
The Virginia Department of Transportation has been working for the last six years to reconfigure 22.5 miles of I-66 from the Capital Beltway to Gainesville. When completed in December 2022, this route will feature two new express lanes in both travel directions and 11 miles of new bicycle paths.
The express lanes will create more reliable and faster trips and can be accessed via a toll or at no charge for vehicles with three-plus occupants. In addition, parking lots with over 4,000 spaces featuring direct access to the express lanes are being constructed to encourage ride-share.
As construction continues throughout 2022, watch for temporary access ramps, changing traffic patterns, and continued closure of ramps and lanes, including at night.
U.S. 69 – OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS
In connection with local partners, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is embarking on the U.S. 69 Expansion Project to alleviate congestion on one of the state's busiest highways. A primary goal is to also reduce accidents. Crashes occurred in this corridor at a rate 53% above the state average.
To accomplish this, KDOT will construct a third lane in each direction between 179th and 103rd Streets in the City of Overland Park. This lane will be an express lane with variable toll pricing. The concept follows that of supply and demand. When the original two lanes of traffic are congested, drivers will be willing to pay to move to the toll lane for a faster drive. Therefore, the pricing will be low enough ($0.65 to $1.50) to encourage drivers to use the toll lanes but high enough to prevent the three lanes from fully equalizing in volume.
Construction should begin during Summer 2022 and last through 2025. While work will be done within the existing median of the highway, drivers can expect slowdowns and delays. As groundbreaking draws closer, you can visit the project website for updated information.
This map shows the area of I-265being widened in the Louisville metro area. Courtesy of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
I-265 – LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is undertaking a four-pronged effort to "address several of the state's most significant transportation needs, based on the...2018 Strategic Highway Investment Formula for Tomorrow (SHIFT) ranking."
One of the four projects included in the I-Move Kentucky project is widening I-265, one of the ring roads around Greater Louisville. This "was identified by SHIFT as Kentucky's No. 1...priority." Along this interstate from State Route 155 to I-71, a new lane will be added in both directions creating a final total of six lanes. This expansion project will be repeated from the I-71/I-265 interchange east on I-71 to State Route 329.
Construction on all phases of this three-and-a-half-year project will be completed by Fall 2023. You can visit the news section of the project's website for updated road closure information.
Construction continues on I-71 in Columbus, Ohio. Photo Courtesy Ohio Dept of Transportation
I-70/I-71 – COLUMBUS, OHIO
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is picking up with the modernization of I-71, where its neighbors in Kentucky left off. Like Kentucky, ODOT strategically prioritized this project to rectify "high crash rates and heavy congestion into and out of downtown Columbus." The estimated investment for all construction phases is 1.4 billion dollars.
Motorists will enjoy better traffic flow when complete, with fewer required lane changes. An additional lane in each direction on I-70 and I-71 will facilitate this and allow for "two continuous lanes for I-70 east and west and for I-71 north and south through downtown Columbus."
In phase 2E of construction, just one piece of over six major phases, ODOT will widen the portion of I-70 east, between 4th St. and Miller Ave, where I-70 connects to I-71. Through this phase, scheduled till Fall 2022, drivers can expect closed entrance and exit ramps. For maps outlining alternate routes in and out of downtown Columbus, visit the project work page.
I-480 Ohio in Cleveland will be experiencing frequent lane shift like example post above. 2021 Lane Shift Diagram. Photo courtesy of ODOT
I-480 – CLEVELAND, OHIO
A few hours northeast near Cleveland, ODOT is entering the later phases of its Valley View Bridge Deck Replacement project. This wasn't a typical project, though. This bridge spans 4,000 feet over the Cuyahoga River Valley and sees over 180,000 vehicles per day.
To replace the 40-year-old bridge deck, crews constructed an entirely new bridge 200 feet in the air adjacent to the existing structure. While used to keep traffic flowing during construction, this new bridge will be left in place following construction, creating two news lanes in each direction.
In keeping with a construction theme seen across its projects, ODOT designed these lanes to bypass exits and interchanges with other highways to create a safer traffic flow.
As construction stretches into Fall 2023, watch for signs and road markings as crews will need to shift westbound traffic once more. During this shift, the new bridge will undergo final preparations to carry two lanes in each direction.