Sunday, November 9, 2014

Crossing I95 in the Newark Area: Route 72 (S. Chapel Street)


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The 4th of an eight part series, we are examining every I95 overpass/underpass in the greater Newark area from a bicycling safety perspective. Crossing I95 is a major impediment for City and area bicyclists, and a show stopper for many who might otherwise consider commuting or riding for basic transportation. Of the eight, we already know the following:
  • 2, including this one, are equipped with a truly safe, segregated pathway intended for non-motorized use - but are not necessarily safe to reach on a bike.
  • 2 contain access ramps to and from I95 in both directions, rendering them very unsafe.
  • 6 are direct crossings with no I95 access, but contain little or no bikeable shoulder space.
  • By request of Delaware Bikes Advocates, 4 are under consideration for Bicycle Warning Signs.
The Route 72/South Chapel Street I95 underpass is the next one east from Route 896. This crossing offers a parallel sidepath, but only on the southbound side. Like most facilities of this type, it has been abandoned by DelDOT and adjacent property owners where any kind of maintenance is concerned. Despite its hazardous condition, it's among the safest across I95 for bicyclists and pedestrians.

NOTE: Using the traffic lanes is not recommended due to high volume, high speed traffic with no shoulder space. However, more advanced cyclists can be seen taking the right lane instead of the sidepath - raising the ire of motorists.

Riding the sidepath under I95, heading north toward Newark

 Tips for crossing I95 on Route 72:
  • A popular access point is from Scottfield Turn, 2 traffic lights north of I95. Cross at the traffic light and proceed south on the sidepath.
  • Many bicyclists cut through Dow Chemical at Bellevue Road, and come out immediately north of I95. Be advised that Dow used to have signs posted in both directions prohibiting bicycles and motorcycles.
  • There are no pathway access points from I95 south to Old Baltimore Pike.
  • Use sturdy tires. The sidepath is abandoned and littered with debris. It also suffers drainage issues under I95, and can be submerged under a few inches of mud and water.
  • As with any bi-directional sidepath, use extreme caution and be especially vigilant at intersections if riding "upstream".
Below are several years worth of photos on the approach to, and passing under I95 via Route 72.  





Last photo: After several requests via DelDOT's on-line maintenance form, the pathway was cleared of overgrowth in 2011.

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