Local News
9:33 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Cracks in I-495 Bridge Footings, Feds Pledge Help (Update)

Credit panoramio.com

Engineers have discovered that the steel piles under the I-495 bridge that has been closed have cracks across the widths of the two concrete footings as result of steel piles having been deformed.

That’s according to the Wilmington News Journal.

Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt also says there is evidence that the structural damage occurred over a shorter period of time noting that it looked much different by Thursday afternoon than it did on Tuesday.

He says it will be weeks to months before the tilted span can be leveled braced and reopened.

Federal Assistance

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware Gov. Jack Markell says federal highway officials have pledged to pay for 90 percent of the cost of repairing a bridge on a critical interstate bypass.

Markell also said late Thursday that the Federal Highway Administration has approved $2 million in emergency relief funds for the initial response to the bridge problem. The total cost of repairs is unknown.

The bridge on Interstate 495 in Wilmington normally carries 90,000 vehicles a day. Most of that traffic is spilling instead onto already clogged I-95, which passes through downtown.

Officials are looking into whether piles of dirt dumped near the bridge are responsible for shifting the ground beneath the span. Officials say the northbound lanes are visibly slanted.

Engineer

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The account of an engineer who first noticed a problem with an interstate bridge is raising questions about the urgency with which officials responded.

Dave Charles tells The Associated Press on Thursday he was working near the bridge last week and noticed it appeared to be tilting. He said he sent emails with photos to an employee of the transportation department's bridge unit at about 6 p.m. May 29. Charles says the official verified he'd received them.

The state transportation department has said it didn't learn of the bridge trouble until Friday, May 30. An examination was done Monday and the bridge was closed.

Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt
Credit official photo

When asked about the discrepancy, Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt told AP a low-level contact was made May 29 and relayed to senior management the next day.

Other Bridges

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware's transportation secretary has ordered immediate inspections of major bridges in the state to determine whether they might be at risk of problems similar to one that has forced the closure of a major interstate bypass in Wilmington.

DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt also told The Associated Press on Thursday that his agency is conducting an inventory of major bridges in Delaware to determine whether the state's property beneath the bridge is properly marked.