Interstate 295 – Delaware Valley
Interstate 295 in the Delaware Valley forms a commuter route serving Wilmington, Delaware, South Jersey, Trenton and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Orientated as a bypass route for Philadelphia, the freeway generally serves local traffic, with through traffic taking either the parallel New Jersey Turnpike, or Interstate 95 through southeastern Pennsylvania.
Interstate 295 crosses the twin span Delaware Memorial Bridge between New Castle, Delaware and Pennsville Township, New Jersey. Interstate 295 between Dupont Parkway at Farnhurst and the New Jersey Turnpike at Deepwater is maintained by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA). Signing practices along this stretch differs from Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) standards.
Through South Jersey, I-295 serves rural areas of Salem an Gloucester Counties to Paulsboro, Woodbury and Bellmawr to the south of Camden. There the route converges with the east end of Interstate 76, making a dog leg northward along side the North South Freeway to Mount Ephraim.
Turning more east, Interstate 295 winds through the communities of Haddon Heights, Barrington, Lawnside and Cherry Hill Township to Burlington County. The freeway and New Jersey Turnpike parallel one another closely on the northeastern swing through Mount Laurel Township before separating at Westampton Township. I-295 stays closer to the Delaware River, bypassing Burlington to Bordentown and the Trenton vicinity.
The northernmost extent of I-295 follows the Trenton Beltline through Hamilton and Lawrence Townships to U.S. 1. Prior to 2018, I-295 ended opposite Interstate 95 at their exchange with U.S. 1 north of Trenton. Sign changes made from January to March 2018 in Mercer County, New Jersey, and through late Spring 2018 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, renumbered Interstate 95 between Bristol, PA and U.S. 1 as an extension of Interstate 295. This included the Scudders Falls Bridge, which is being rebuilt as a tolled crossing.
The new flyover ramps linking Interstate 95 with the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange at Bristol opened to traffic on September 23, 2018.17 Completion of the missing link coincided with the realignment of I-95 onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike east and the New Jersey Turnpike north to Exit 6.
Interstate 295 is part of High Priority Corridor 64: Camden-Philadelphia Corridor.
Pennsylvania Turnpike / Interstate 95 Interchange Project
Origins of the Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project date back to 1969 with the opening of I-95 through Bucks County and plans to link it with the Turnpike. Legislation at the time prohibited federal funds from being used to connect an Interstate highway to a toll road, so the two were never connected. Subsequent studies by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) were held in 1975-77 to build the connection. The Federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act in 1982 specified that I-95 be completed through a new interchange with i-276 to connect it with the New Jersey Turnpike via the Delaware River Turnpike Toll Bridge. PA Act 61 authorized the PA Turnpike Commission to construct the interchange in 1985, which was envisioned as a slow speed trumpet to trumpet interchange through studies conducted between 1984-88.1
Studies from 1992 to 2003 by the PA Turnpike Commission1 and Community Advisory Committee (CAC) discussions throughout the 1990s and early 2000s2 involved a high-speed direct interchange between I-95 and I-276. This led to completion of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and a Record of Decision (ROD) issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Initial proposals involved extending Interstate 295 southwest from Lawrenceville along Interstate 95 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Bristol. Design work for the new exchange started in 2004. The preliminary design was completed by 2008.1
Before construction broke ground, New Jersey and Pennsylvania petitioned the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to extend Interstate 195 west from Hamilton Township over I-295 north to Lawrenceville and over I-95 southwest to Bristol as part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 95 Interchange Project. This was conditionally approved on May 4, 2007, with final approval expected once construction was complete.
This map was previously posted on the PA Turnpike / I-95 Interchange Project web site. It showed the proposal to extend Interstate 195 west to Bucks County, Pennsylvania and the future realignment of Interstate 95 onto the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes.
Although construction had yet started on the ramps linking I-95 and I-276, renumbering changes were again made, with the Pennsylvania Turnpike web site referencing Interstate 395 as the new designation for I-95 between I-276 at Bristol and I-295 at Lawrenceville. This coincided with leaving I-295 in place from Lawrenceville southward.
PA Turnpike / I-95 Interchange Project construction stage maps referenced I-95 north of I-276 as I-195 in May 2013, but then as I-395 in September 2014.
The I-395 numbering was never finalized and the plan prior to 2007 of extending I-295 west to Bristol, Pennsylvania was again submitted to AASHTO in 2015. The FHWA approved the renumbering of I-95 as an extension of I-295 on May 20, 2015. This coincided with approval of realigning I-95 east over I-276 from Bristol into New Jersey.
The often delayed PA Turnpike / I-95 Interchange Project was initially thought to commence in 2007 and be completed in 2010. Initial construction finally started in 2010. Work not only involved the addition of ramps linking I-95 and 276, but also adjacent projects. This included a new mainline toll plaza for I-276 and widening of the Turnpike mainline.
Stage 1 construction through 2018 involved the aforementioned main line plaza, the two flyover ramps needed to realign the I-95 mainline, and work at the Bristol Interchange with U.S. 13. Stage 2, adds the remainder of the ramps linking I-95, I-276 and I-295, with work underway from 2017 onward. Anticipated for 2025 or later, Stage 3 will add a second Delaware River span for northbound traffic along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
$1.2 million in sign changes underway from January to March 2018 replaced around 200 assemblies for I-95 in Mercer County, New Jersey to show Interstate 295. Subsequent sign work started in Spring 2018 replaced signs along I-95 from the Scudders Fall Bridge southwest to the PA Turnpike Interchange with I-276 at Bristol. With I-95 relocated onto the PA and NJ Turnpikes, I-295 gained 19 miles. The I-295 exit numbering continues west to the Pennsylvania state line at the Delaware River. This stretch is signed as a north/south route while the former I-95 freeway in Bucks County is signed with east/west cardinal directions. Exit numbers in Pennsylvania count up from the PA Turnpike to Exit 10 for New Hope and Yardley.16
Modernization of the DRBA-maintained section of I-295 in Delaware is complete. Previous work started in the late 1990s rebuilt the northbound lanes between the split with I-95 to U.S. 13/40 (Dupont Highway) at Farnhurst. Construction replaced original concrete east to the cloverleaf interchange with State Route 9. The last phase of the I-295 Delaware Memorial Bridge Approach Road Rehabilitation project commenced on February 15, 2016. Rebuilding the freeway southbound from U.S. 13/40 (Dupont Highway) to the ramps with I-495 and I-95, the $33.7 million construction wrapped up Spring 2019.15
I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection
Major construction started in March 2013 at the overlap between I-76 and I-295 at New Jersey Route 42 (North South Freeway) at Bellmawr. The old configuration took I-295 north along side I-76 through a series of ramps requiring motorists to slow to 35 miles per hour. This included the AI-Jo curve (named after a former nightclub adjacent to the ramp), the 180 degree loop ramp joining I-295 south with Route 42 south. Split into four major construction contracts and costing $900 million, work realigns the I-295 mainline to pass over the North South Freeway and eliminates the overlap and weaving traffic pattern.3
Contract 1, costing $159 million, was awarded on January 18, 2013 with ceremonial groundbreaking on the overall project taking place March 12, 2013.3 Completed in November 2016, Contract 1 affected Interstate 295 west of Essex Avenue and Route 42 while primarily focusing on work to eliminate the express/local configuration of the North South Freeway at Gloucester City.
Bids for Contract 2 were opened on December 19, 2013, with a low bid of $152.6 million.4 This contract was awarded on February 7, 2014 for reconstruction of I-295 east from the North South Freeway to Route 168, with adjacent work on Ramps B, C and D. The completion date was originally December 15, 2017. The new connection from I-76 east to I-295 north converges with the freeway mainline through a five lane covered roadway that opened in February 2019. Construction on the remainder of Contract 2 eventually finished in July 2019.
Contract 3 was previously scheduled to run from Winter 2016 to Winter 2021. Work commenced in April 2017. It involves construction of the new I-295 mainline over the North South Freeway. Contract 4 rounds out the work with final ramp movements completed for Ramp B, C and F. Previously anticipated to run from Spring 2020 to Winter 2023, Contract 4 is expected to go to bid in 2024.
Dan Boris provides a photo blog of the project at I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection.
Scudder Falls Bridge
Originally estimated to cost $140 million in 2014, the $328 million Scudder Falls Bridge Replacement Project across the Delaware River was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on June 14, 2012 after nine years of study. Renumbered as Interstate 295 in 2018, construction expanded a 4.4 mile long stretch of freeway between PA 332 in Bucks County and Bear Tavern Road in Ewing Township, New Jersey. The four lane bridge over the Delaware, built between 1959 and 1961, was replaced with a nine lane span.5
Preparation work for construction of the new Scudder Falls Bridge started on January 4, 2016 with tree removal on both sides of I-95 between PA 332 and Taylorsville Road in Lower Makefield. This allowed for the installation of sound walls by Spring 2016. Tree clearing on the New Jersey side of the river started in Fall 2016. Four and a half years of road construction building the new twin span began in July 2017.6
The first span was anticipated to open in Spring 2019.14 It did with two way traffic on July 9, 2019. Associated work redesigned the interchange with New Jersey Route 29 along the Delaware River to incorporate two roundabouts. Demolition work on the former span was underway through Spring 2020.
All electronic toll collection was implemented for southbound traffic on July 14, 2019. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission approved E-ZPass rates of $1.25 for passenger vehicles and $2.60 for Toll-by-Plate traffic on September 26, 2016.14
With an anticipated completion in late 2021, construction continued on the second span. It opened to traffic on August 16, 2021. The target date for the overall project completion was May 27, 2022. Final tasks included landscaping and miscellaneous punch list work.18