May 222012


As reported from the Coastal Point, The Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has announced that several traffic pattern switches this week to allow for all lanes of traffic on the new Indian River Inlet Bridge to become active prior to Memorial Day weekend and to also allow for work on the new road under the bridge on the south side of the inlet to begin.

A connector road beneath the bridge has now opened, meaning northbound traffic heading from Bethany Beach will not be able to exit right into Delaware Seashore State Park. Instead drivers will have to proceed northbound over the bridge, make a U-turn at Savage’s Ditch Road, travel southbound back over the bridge, and then exit right to access the new connector road leading to the parking area, beach and bathhouse. This is expected to be in place until sometime in July, officials told the Coastal Point. 
Also, northbound travel lanes over the new bridge have opened and the second southbound lane will follow shortly.  This work is expected to take one or two days and is weather dependent. This lane opening marks the completion of the bridge portion of the Indian River Inlet Bridge project.

May 042012

The Indian River Inlet Bridge is set to open on Memorial Day Weekend, according to Coastal Point, ending years of construction and anticipation.

A dedication for the new bridge, which will also be named the Charles W. Cullen Bridge, will take place Sunday, May 6 with special guests Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and more expected to attend. The public is also encouraged to come out to take a look at the finished product before it becomes a four-lane functional roadway on the popular holiday weekend.

As for the expected Memorial Day reopening, the Coastal Point says:

“DelDOT officials said they hope to open all four lanes of traffic on the new bridge by Memorial Day, on a rapidly approaching deadline. Bridge lighting was also expected to be functional in May.

Bridge contractor Skanska Civil Southeast is very close to completing construction activities on the bridge and its environs, including reattaching the sand bypass system that aids the natural movement of sand and tides across the inlet. The sand bypass system must be attached to the new bridge before the old bridge is demolished.

As they finish the final work, from cleanup to light bulb replacement, crews will continue cleaning the construction site and leaving. Meanwhile, DelDOT will complete inspections and inventories, to make sure the State received what it ordered.”

This will come as great news to those incoming travelers from the North, who will see a much improved roadway and a less-cluttered journey as they head into North Bethany for their beach vacations.


Mar 142012


Published by: The Coastal Point

Many motorists were excited to begin driving over the new Indian River Inlet Bridge in late January when it initially opened to limited traffic, but roadwork will continue throughout spring, and locals got a progress report from Delaware Department of Transportation’s (DelDOT) monthly Community Advisory Group meeting on Feb. 23.

The new bridge has shed much of the construction equipment used to build it, including the gigantic tower cranes and custom-built form travelers. Yet much activity continues on deck. The construction isn’t always visible to drivers, but it is important, said DelDOT’s Doug Robb.

The bridge work is on track to be completed by Memorial Day.

A small platform still provides access for workers with finishing tasks such as painting and patching. Because it has a clearance of more than 32 feet above the Inlet waters below, the moving platform should not dramatically obstruct boat traffic.

The complex sand bypass system will be attached to the new bridge before the old bridge is demolished. Regular tidal movements are partially blocked by the inlet jetties, so the sand bypass system moves the sand across the channel from one beach to another, thus preventing extreme erosion.

People may see intermittent light testing, but the full illumination will be seen closer to May.

The pedestrian walkway is being built up on the bridge’s ocean side. It will be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, so the 5-degree incline will meet ADA requirements, unlike the old bridge. Pedestrians can access both beaches from the bridge when construction ends, but they are still using a detour, as are cyclists.

Bicyclists should follow specially marked signs, as they are not supposed to follow motor vehicle patterns yet. There are still open joints on parts of the new bridge, which is unsafe for bikes. Within two weeks, bicycles heading south toward Bethany Beach will use the new bridge, but cyclists heading north will still detour to the old bridge.

Craig Stevens of DelDOT said there have been some utility outages, such as cable and Internet, in the project area, but he emphasized that they are the responsibility of the utility companies. That work should be complete within the next two weeks, he said. Transmission lines are also done, and companies have been cleaning up and removing equipment from work sites.

A small road runs beneath the bridge to the south, connecting access roads on either side of the bridge. The A-B Connector, as it is called, was temporarily opened but will close again soon as construction continues. Drivers will need to make a U-turn to access the local roads.

After the roadway contract ends, DelDOT will continue plans for the park contract – specifically, state park improvements and amenities that were unavailable while DelDOT used park land as a construction site.

Park improvements should not affect Route 1 traffic as bridge construction did. Only the parks and, perhaps the South Shore Marina residential community, will be impacted by construction in the next few years.

The Delaware Fisherman’s Alliance has asked DelDOT to address their concerns with the future park contract, which includes vehicle parking. Stevens said one parking lot was only supposed to be a temporary lot, so some fishermen were upset that it will become an RV camping lot. Stevens said DelDOT will reconsider the plans to possibly include some regular parking spots.

“Just because we opened traffic on the bridge, we’re nowhere near complete,” Stevens emphasized. “All that work is still going on. They’re still gonna be in your back yard for a little while.”

George & Lynch contractors are currently building the roadway approaches but will stop short of state park parking areas, which will be continued later during the park contract.

In the future, the park tollbooth will be moved farther back in the parking lot. That is expected to improve traffic queues for South Shore Marina residents who occasionally wait at the end of long vehicle lines just to bypass the park and approach their homes.

The road will be widened and improved, but Stevens could not promise there would be no delays on a very busy day.

The monthly Construction Advisory Group meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 29, at 10 a.m. at the DelDOT Field Office, 39368 Inlet Road on the inlet’s north side.

Dec 072011


Published by The Wave

The new Indian River Inlet Bridge will likely be open to traffic in January, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation.

A few final steps need to be taken for the bridge to be operational, officials said. Once the span opens, demolition of the old bridge will begin. The entire project should wrap by summer’s start.

“Currently, the contractor is finishing up the pedestrian barrier, deck overlay, lighting and doing final stay-cable tensioning and survey work to ensure the bridge is in correct alignment,” said DelDOT spokeswoman Tina Shockley.

An official announcement for the expected date of the opening is expected this week, Shockley said.

DelDOT’s early estimates for the bridge’s completion were for December, but Shockley said Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee caused construction delays.

After a nor’easter hit Delmarva the weekend before Halloween, the bridge was briefly closed so crews could divert traffic and install a concrete barrier to protect the roadway north of the bridge from dune erosion. The project was estimated to cost between $50,000 and $100,000.

The new bridge will be open to two lanes of traffic during the demolition of the old bridge. Shockley said DelDOT hopes to have all four lanes open by Memorial Day, just in time for the busy summer season.

Oct 132011


Published by Coastal Point

It’s getting a lot harder for people driving across the Indian River Inlet Bridge to see through the gap between north and south sides of the new bridge as they drive past, with the time for the final concrete pour of the project nearing and just 10 feet of space remaining between the two cantilevered portions of the bridge deck.

DelDOT officials reported this week that plans are being made for the bridge closure pour to occur sometime during the week of Oct. 17. Community Relations Officer Tina Shockley said the exact date for the closure pour would not be known until 24 hours prior to its scheduled start, due to the influence of weather conditions.

Peo Halvarsson, construction manager for design-build consultant Skanska, provided an update on the project during the final days of September, reporting that the last full edge girder of the bridge had been poured during the week prior to the Sept. 29 construction advisory group (CAG) meeting. The last deck slab was then set to be poured during the first weekend of October.

With both the north and south ends of the bridge cantilevered over the inlet, Halvarsson noted that there is a 3-foot elevation difference between the two sides of the bridge. He said that was expected, since the south side still has its deck-building form traveler attached and the north side has already had its form traveler removed.

The remaining form traveler, he said, will be advanced forward so that the two sides share the weight of the form traveler equally, which is expected to solve the height elevation difference prior to closure of the two sides.

Once the closure takes place, the bridge will undergo post-tensioning and will be re-stressed. There will also be surveying done to make sure everything is in alignment and that the bridge profile is correct, Halvarsson said.

Ongoing work on the bridge also includes installation of the pedestrian barriers and guardrails.

Inlet to be closed for removal of second form traveler

The bridge’s second form traveler is expected to be removed later this month, at which time the inlet itself will be closed for a period of hours, DelDOT officials warned.

DelDOT Project Manager Doug Robb noted that the removal process will be similar to what took place when the north-side form traveller was lowered and removed this summer. With the inlet under a posted closure of about 12 hours, a barge was carefully positioned beneath the traveler, at a slack tide, and the traveler was then lowered onto it and taken out to sea.

The travelers are being disassembled after their removal because they’re unique to the project and cannot be reused.

Advance notice of the upcoming inlet closure will be provided, Robb noted.

Project roughly on track for travel by end of year

Despite about a week of lost work time due to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, as well as the long spate of rainy weather in August, the project continues to be roughly on track for its planned opening to traffic by the end of 2011. Robb said the goal continues to be to have the bridge open to two lanes of traffic by the end of the year.

However, he noted that, as completion of the bridge gets closer, weather will play a greater role because there are fewer days to make up for time lost to weather constraints.

So, while the timeline is still set for the bridge to be open to traffic by the end of December, Robb said the most important thing is to do the job correctly and have a safe bridge, even if that means not finishing until January. He did emphasize, though, that there was enough of a cushion built into the schedule that all four lanes should be open to traffic by Memorial Day weekend of 2012, lessening a major concern for local residents, business owners and visitors.

Revamped approaches set to be ready when bridge is complete

Craig Stevens of DelDOT also provided an update to CAG members on Sept. 29 on the status of the related roadway and bridge demolition contract, which is currently in Phase 2. As part of Phase 2, road detours remain in place, with one lane of traffic running across the old bridge in each direction.

He said a lightweight foam concrete has been installed on the approach roadways, with more being installed on the south side approach roadway than on the north side approach roadway. Roadway contractor George & Lynch and Skanska have been working together, he said, to raise the elevation of the concrete by 2 feet at a time, until the proper approach roadway elevation has been reached.

The south side, Stevens said, is ready to be poured once the approach slab is ready, with the process being to pour the concrete from the bridge to the embankment. Once the approach slabs are poured, the barrier walls will be erected.

CAG members asked about any comparison between these new approach spans and the ones created for the prior bridge design, which had to be scuttled when it was discovered that the approaches were settling too much to be used. (The State of Delaware is still in litigation over the failed approaches, which not only could not be used but required the redesign of the bridge to account for their presence.)

Stevens said there are many differences between the new approach spans and the ones created for the previous bridge effort. He said the limits for the roadway approaches have been significantly reduced and the amount of weight is significantly lower. The expectation, Stevens said, is that the new roadway approaches will behave in the same manner as those constructed elsewhere in the state.

As the bridge itself nears completion, Stevens said the roadway project remains on schedule and that the roadway approaches will be ready when the bridge is complete. The roadway construction schedule calls for Phase 3 to begin when the bridge is open to two lanes of traffic, which will be in or before early 2012. Local road improvements will then begin, and the existing bridge will be demolished. In the summer of 2012, all four lanes are set to be open to traffic.

Stevens also told CAG members that the road should be completed prior to fall and winter temperatures reaching a level where it will affect the roadway. He noted that the bridge uses a different construction method so it is not affected by the impending colder weather.

The next CAG meeting is set for Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Skanska field office on Inlet Road, at 10 a.m. The meeting is set to include a site tour for CAG members, which will allow them to be some of the first people to walk across the completed bridge deck, assuming the closure pour goes as planned.

Shockley noted that all of the public site tours that were conducted over the summer were completely full. No more public site tours are planned prior to the completion of the bridge. The bridge design, though, includes pedestrian access, so the public will eventually have close-up access to the completed bridge.