The Delaware Department of Transportation announced the southbound lanes of the I-495 bridge spanning the Christina River in Wilmington, could be open as soon as Labor Day this year, and the northbound lanes will be opened several weeks after that.
A section of the span has been closed from Terminal Avenue to 12th Street since June 2 after an inspection showed four of the 37 support columns are tilted as much as 4% out of vertical alignment. An estimated 90,000 vehicles use the bridge each day.
"The timeline that we are announcing today is only possible because we have acted quickly to mobilize firms and personnel that have a proven track record of reopening critical transportation infrastructure under deadline pressure," said Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt. "As of today, the people, materials and equipment needed to reopen the I-495 bridge is on its way to Delaware from across the United States."
The first phase of construction to re-open the bridge is estimated to cost $20 million, while the cost of the permanently fixing the problem is not yet certain, said Bhatt said.
There were a number of options considered for reopening the bridge, Bhatt said. "We first looked at just shoring up the existing bridge, but that option was quickly ruled out because of the poor soil conditions. Another idea was to fully reconstruct this section of the bridge. That option would've put us at an early 2015 opening, which was not a viable option given the traffic volume the bridge normally carries."