Tuesday was a terrible day for tourists, commuters, and road warriors.
Two-hour one-way commutes were commonplace when a pickup truck pulling a work trailer carrying highly combustible material collided with a big rig on I-95.
Worse yet, the mishap occurred at what might be I-95’s weakest link between Florida and Boston – the Churchmans Marsh, sandbox, Route 141 area. That portion of I-95 is the funnel we encounter before traffic moves to I-295-Delaware Memorial Bridge and I-495.
The material in question was so fire and blast-prone that the state’s seasoned hazmat crews chose a controlled burn complete with a shelter in place order.
The heroic effort led to I-95 north reopening in the latter part of the afternoon. Soundbound I-95 had opened earlier.
Meanwhile, talks had reportedly broken down between President Joe Biden and Republicans over a smaller infrastructure deal.
Granted, there are no easy solutions, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the need for a more focused infrastructure bill that deals with bottlenecks like Churchmans Marsh and upgrading railroad trackage that can shift more truck cargo the rails.
The legislation now in Congress is loaded with costly income equality and social justice measures that doom its chances.
Republicans have also shown a lack of flexibility, and some fear their overtures are simply teasing centrist Democrats.
Their penny-pinching opposition to measures such as more charging stations for electric vehicles is short-sighted, in light of the investments by giants like Ford, Toyota and GM.
Other forces are at work in Churchmans Marsh and other highways that Congress and Biden can’t easily address.
Traffic accidents are more frequent, despite a reduction in miles traveled due to the pandemic.
Speed limits have been raised, and many now travel 80 miles an hour or more along Route 1 and the Interstate. As a result, troopers are stretched thin and strict enforcement gets blowback from the public and can put law enforcement lives in danger.
It is time for a serious look at the I-95 corridor minus the usual badmouthing of DelDOT, which deals with a half-century of neglect and lack of funding for our roads, bridges, and rails. Many who made those bad decisions are no longer with us or have left public life.
No, I’m not necessarily talking about four more lanes or performing some engineering feat. But we should put some of our best engineering minds to work without simply throwing up our hands. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.