However, the journey to these idyllic ends can be fraught with bumper-to-bumper traffic, lengthened commutes, and speed limits dropping 10mph lower than typical.
Springtime sees government deployment of milling machines and asphalt pavers to side streets, interstates, and everywhere in-between. Here's a look at some major road construction projects that may impact your road trips across America.
In February 2021, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is undertaking a significant project called Restore the Corridor. This three-year project focuses on the I-95 Wilmington Corridor. It will affect travel on I-95 for six miles, from I-495 to north of the Brandywine River Bridge.
Former Secretary of DelDOT, Jennifer Cohan, said, "this project will increase the safety of I-95 and the longevity of the interstate by 30 years.”
The 1960s Wilmington Viaduct is the main thorofare through Wilmington. It crosses over railroad tracks, parks, and city streets, but requires resurfacing, a bridge deck replacement, and bridge joint replacements. The project also includes new on-ramps, widening nearby roads, and widening the viaduct itself, which hasn't been done since the 70s.
While these accomplishments are exciting, Cohan warned of "significant traffic impacts and delays." The project's beginning phases will require over 20 months of bidirectional traffic on just one side of the existing viaduct.
I-70 construction outside of Springfield. Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Transportation
I-70 | SPRINGFIELD, OH
For about 60 miles when driving between Dayton and Columbus, you drive on I-70. By Fall 2021, when this three-year Ohio Department of Transportation project concludes, the road you drive will no longer be a two-lane highway. In addition to adding through lanes to I-70 in both directions, this project includes various bridge replacements.
Even as the project winds down, it will affect springtime driving. Drivers should expect various lane and ramp closures. In some areas, eastbound traffic has been shifted onto the westbound side of the interstate. Additionally, the ramp from I-70 eastbound to U.S. 68 northbound will remain closed until July 2021.
I-75 | DAYTON, OH
This bridge preservation project is a two-year, in-progress project expected to conclude in Fall 2022. Work is being done to repair bridges over Edwin C. Moses and Carillon Boulevards, which ring either side of the Great Miami River south of Dayton.
As work concludes, motorists should still expect ramp closures and traffic pattern shifts. This includes a year where I-75 southbound traffic will travel on the northbound side of the interstate. Additionally, The Edwin C. Moses Boulevard entrance ramp to I-75 southbound will be closed until October 2021.
I-95 | FT. LAUDERDALE, FL
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is expanding its South Florida Regional Express Lanes Network. According to FDOT, the 95 Express Lane Project is designed to provide efficient transportation options, accommodate future growth, enhance emergency evacuation, and improve system connectivity.
The southern-most portion of this project has concluded, and 20+ miles of express lanes are available for use. Phase 3 of the project is now underway and is expected to run through at least mid-2025.
In this phase, previous HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are being converted to tolled express lanes. To complement this, neighboring roads and bridges are being widened, painting and landscape projects are being undertaken, and work is being done on an improved connection to I-595 to the west.
Road and ramp closures for construction purposes are being conducted at night as needed. During the day, traffic pattern shifts can be expected.
Photo Courtesy of MDOT
I-94 | DETROIT, MI
This modernization project focuses on a 6.7-mile stretch of I-94 from just east of the I-94/I-96 interchange to east of Conner Avenue. Once completed, I-94 will be a safer freeway with widened shoulders and an extra travel lane in both directions. Left side exits are being replaced with right side exit lanes, and merging onto the highway is being made safer with extended acceleration lanes.
This area has seen road closures for over seven years already, but on and off shutdowns will continue to occur as pavement and bridge works arise. The larger safety works should begin in 2023. In advance of that, so as not to completely cut off motorists' access, bridges are being replaced in phases.
I-75 | TROY, MI
In addition to its I-95 project, the Michigan Department of Transportation has undertaken a modernization project on I-75 in Oakland County north of Detroit.
This effort focuses on 18 miles of freeway from M-102 (i.e., Eight Mile Road) to south of M-59. The north and central segments of this project are already concluded. The remaining phase is expected to last until 2023.
In 2023 Michigan's first HOV lane is expected to open along I-75. This will help achieve the project's goal of providing increased capacity to relieve congestion.
In addition to the HOV lanes, the project will feature the replacement of 47 bridges and the creation of a Diverging Diamond Interchange. This intersection design method minimizes crash points, improves traffic flow, makes left turns safer, and can be built in less physical space.
Critically, the project also includes the installation of a four-mile-long drainage tunnel. This tunnel is designed to collect water from heavy rain events and transport it to a new pump station. The hope is to prevent a recurrence of 2014 when 14 feet of water filled the interstate.
I-70 construction rendering in Denver, courtest of the Colorado Department of Transportation
I-70 | DENVER, CO
The Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) Central 70 Project aims to connect neighborhoods previously divided by the interstate, reduce congestion to support businesses, and cut down on delivery delays.
This will be accomplished by a new east and west tolled express lane, removing the aging viaduct, and on the western edge of the project, lowering the interstate and placing a four-acre park overhead.
The portion of I-70 that will be reconstructed is 10-miles between Brighton Boulevard and Chambers Road. Construction planned for 2021 and 2022 focuses on the project's western area where the viaduct was removed. A common detour to avoid I-70 routes drivers onto interstates 270 and 25 north of the construction zone.
I-270 MD courtesy Maryland Dept of Transportation
I-270 | BETHESDA, MD (D.C.)
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) engaged in a private-public partnership to carry out its I-270 Innovative Congestion Management project. The work spans the I-270 Corridor, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Highway, from I-495 to I-70, including the east and west I-270 spurs.
The ultimate goal is safety and traffic flow to save drivers up to 30 minutes on their morning southbound commute. To achieve this goal and break up 14 different bottleneck areas, MDOT will install over 23 miles of new roadway and more than 25 real-time traffic information systems.
While this project is nearly 73% completed, the remaining scheduled construction is fundamental to its success. This includes installing ramp metering systems (i.e., traffic lights to control the number of vehicles entering the highway) on both north- and southbound ramps.
While road widening is taking place and these 30 plus signals are being installed, motorists can expect nighttime ramp closures and more disruptive delays than usual. The project is scheduled for completion in summer 2021.
I-84 | WEST HARTFORD, CT
This improvement project on I-84 was undertaken to provide safety and operational improvements to address congestion concerns and reduce accident occurrence.
The most extensive revisions include creating new travel lanes in both directions and the widening or replacing of bridges. Both the bridges over Berkshire Road and Ridgewood Road will be addressed.
Throughout this process, crews will also bring various roadway elements up to new standards. These include guide rail and barrier curb improvements, noise barrier wall repairs, and new installations.
While these works are underway, travelers can expect closures of Berkshire Road and east- and westbound shoulder closures. Additionally, detours may be posted to route vehicles around the Ridgewood Road on-ramp.