I-495 Bridge Reopens to Traffic in Delaware - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

I-495 Bridge Reopens to Traffic in Delaware

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WILMINGTON, Del. - After more than two months of being closed to traffic, the I-495 bridge in Wilmington, Delaware officially fully opened Saturday, about a week earlier than expected.

Delaware Department Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt announced Saturday the northbound lanes reopened to traffic following the successful realignment of the bridge that spans the Christina River. The southbound lanes were reopened July 31. With the reopening of the northbound lanes, it means traffic is fully restored to the bridge in both directions.

The Delaware Department of Transportation says the full reopening of the bridge happened earlier than anticipated due to significant time savings achieved during the work to construct new underground support columns. DelDOT says the process to jack the southbound and northbound sides of the bridge back into alignment also went smoothly.  The department says both operations could have taken substantially more time if problems had been encountered.

"Fully reopening this vital economic link in Delaware and along the northeast in less than three months is a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many individuals," said Governor Markell. "Getting this work done quickly was important, but the safety of the traveling public and the many job site workers was very important too.  I want to thank Secretary Bhatt, the entire project team at DelDOT, and all of the contractors who gave so much to this project over the last few months. I also want to thank the City for its partnership and our congressional delegation for their support.  Finally, I want to thank the traveling public for their patience as DelDOT has worked around the clock to get this highway back in service."  

The I-495 bridge has been closed to traffic since June 2 when the interstate, which parallels I-95 and serves as a bypass through Wilmington, was shut down due to an unsafe bridge condition in both directions of travel.  The 4,800 foot bridge normally carries approximately 90,000 vehicles per day.

Realigning the tilted bridge was a collaborative effort between DelDOT, Delaware's Congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, AECOM and J.D. Eckman, Inc. DelDOT says various Delaware-based sub-contractors and construction trades were also employed on the project.

The estimated cost to repair the bridge if $45 million, according to DelDOT, but the Federal Highway Administration says they will pay one hundred percent of those costs. DelDOT says this is thanks to Delaware's congressional delegation who helped secure the emergency relief funding.

"Although the permanent repairs to the bridge are still underway, we are all pleased to be able to restore traffic for the tens of thousands of motorists who use this highway every day," Secretary Bhatt said.  "Equally important is that from June 3 through today, we have received nothing but support and cooperation from all of our federal, state, and local partners."  

"The full reopening of the I-495 bridge is a great accomplishment that will improve commutes for thousands of Delawareans every day," said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "Gov. Markell and  Transportation Sec. Bhatt have worked tirelessly to complete this complicated and challenging project and their hard work has paid off as the bridge reopens ahead of schedule. The improved I-495 bridge is an example of the incredible work that can be done when the federal government partners with states to make critical investments in our country's transportation infrastructure that boost the economy, decrease traffic congestion and improve safety for American families."

"Having both directions of I-495 open again brings great joy and relief to every one of those 90,000 drivers who use this highway on a daily basis," said Senator Coons. "Achieving the goals of completing the project under deadline is an impressive feat, when you think about how many teams worked on this project. I want to again thank Sec. Bhatt, his team at DelDOT, and every engineer, project manager and construction person who has worked nights, weekends and holidays getting this bridge back to operating condition."

"This is very good news for the thousands of drivers who use I-495 everyday, as well as the communities and businesses who have been dealing with a flood of unexpected traffic for the last few months," said Congressman Carney.  "DelDOT should be applauded for leading a group of federal, state, and local partners to get the bridge repaired safely and ahead of schedule. It also would not have happened without those who have been working day and night to make the needed repairs.  I'm grateful for their hard work and commitment.  I can't wait to check Google Maps and see I-495 up and running again."

For up-to-date travel information visit www.DelDOT.gov and for web enabled devices, visit www.DelDOT.gov/Mobile

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