Monday, March 23, 2009

Damn You, Delaware!

An angry shake of the fist this morning to the State of Delaware for failing to fix its chronic problem on I-95 through the state - an eight-mile stretch of Hell known for its mind-numbing toll booth delays!

The Matthews family made a required trip to New York over the weekend, and we managed to avoid any problems in the First State on the way north, primarily because we were out of the house by 6:30am and through "Hellaware" by 8 am. However, there was little we could do to avoid the state on the way home.

We cruised across the Delaware Memorial Bridge at around 5 pm Sunday, and managed to cruise along at around 70 mph until we got to the Delaware rest stop, where we hit the wall - a three and a half mile, 40 minute back up to pay our toll.

Now, there was, to the far left, a "dedicated" lane "exclusively" for EZ-Pass users, but this was no bargain for the first two and a half miles, because there was so much traffic, it didn't really matter who had a toll transponder and who didn't. Eventually, as we moved closer to the toll booth, I did move over to the dedicated lane, and we did managed to pick up speed as we went through the EZ=Pass lane. I would bet that people without EZ-Pass easily faced a 70 - 80 minute wait to get through the booth!

Which leads me to ask a couple of questions... First - why would one ever drive to New York without owning an EZ-Pass? They used to be free, but now I think they are a dollar a month. Still - If you drive in the Northeast corridor of the US more than once a year, this has got to be one of the biggest timesavers and best investments ever!

Second - what can be done to fix this problem in Delaware? I have a couple of ideas... First - they should ease the pain by cutting it in half- just as they do in Maryland on both I-95 and at the Bay Bridge... Double the toll, and charge in only one direction. Charge at the turnpike going north, and charge at the Delaware Memorial bridge going south.

Next - charge people who pay cash twice as much as you charge EZ-Pass users - and put up big signs showing motorists the price difference. Then, double the number of "EZ-Pass only" lanes. You'll get people to convert to EZ=Pass and keep traffic moving better!

And finally - go the American way... and cheat! After botching about this on Facebook, my friend Eddie McGrath, who lkives in Wilmington, sent me instructions on how to avoid I-95 altogether in Delaware. I have already printed out the idirections and put them in my glove box for next time. Here they are:

Coming north, get off I-95 at rte 279 in MD--head toward Newark DE

Rte 279 turns into DE Rte 2. Turn right onto Rte 4 (Christina Hwy). When you get to Rte 896 (S. College Ave). turn right, then get onto I-95 north. It adds 2 miles and you avoid the toll.

From the north, get off I-95 at 896 north. Reverse these directions. Believe me, that DE toll is a rip off and totally avoidable."

So take THAT, Delaware! I love your tax-free shopping, but you can take your little strip of I-95 and kindly shove it!

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