If it’s Friday at 5 p.m. and the traffic is bad, it can only mean one thing. And it’s NOT happy hour.
It’s “Joe Jam” time.
That’s the kitschy name for the traffic congestion that occurs around Route 141, 48 and Centreville Road when President Joe Biden heads home from D.C. to Greenville, Delaware.
With Biden returning home many weekends, like he is for Memorial Day weekend, the traffic alerts have been received with a range of emotions for Delawareans – everything from helpful and proud to funny and annoying.
“I think it is pretty amazing that he comes home so often and speaks to the type of person and President he is,” said Gina Castelli of North Wilmington. “The president of the United States lives in our county and state. That is pretty phenomenal. It will happen for four years. Let’s celebrate it!”
Wilmington resident Ashley Sabo is not a fan of the frequent homebound trips.
“His trips home cost taxpayers a lot more money as president than they did when he was in the Senate,” said Sabo, who says she’s more frustrated than upset. “I would prefer if his timing took into account busy times of travel for residents of the area.”
The President’s public schedule notes what the time his aircraft plans to arrive at New Castle Airport – usually around 5 p.m. on Fridays and what time he departs (7 a.m.-ish) on Mondays.
With each trip, he is accompanied by a motorcade of vehicles, and commuters traveling near or around Point A (New Castle Airport) to Point B (around the perimeter of Biden’s home – and all roads leading to and from) find themselves stuck in traffic for at least an additional hour, give or take an hour.
That means that people on their way home or to day cares after a long week or people heading to work or school drop-offs can suddenly find themselves in stand-still traffic and late for pick-ups and drop-offs.
Media sites such as WDEL radio and First State Update have been the most popular Delaware news outlets to inform the public about when the President is due into town and which roads will be impacted.
Micahel Loughery of North Wilmington said he likes the updates even though the delays don’t affect him too much.
“I think it’s so funny how people get twisted about all this,” he said. “What did they think would happen when he got elected?”
It’s not that Biden wants to return, but the frequency of his return was a surprise for many.
But not Margaret Jenkins of Wilmington.
“He’s always been a homebody — coming home while he was in the Senate,” she said. “Why should that really change?”
Jenkins is impacted by the president’s travel plans because she lives on Route 141, but says that so far, she has not been stuck when his caravan comes to town.
“So far I have missed it. But, I think we can cope,” she said. “I never thought I’d live four miles from the president of the United States.”
And then, there are those like Faith Coco of New Castle, who are wishing for Option B.
“Can we start a Go Fund Me account for a helicopter landing pad in his backyard?”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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