WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Delaware's transportation chief says officials are hoping to reopen the southbound lanes of an important interstate bridge by Labor Day.
Officials closed the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River June 2 because supporting columns are tilting. The bridge typically carries about 90,000 vehicles a day.
Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt (SHAY-lin baht) said Tuesday that officials hope the northbound lanes can reopen a few weeks later.
Bhatt says equipment, materials and expertise are on the way to Delaware. Plans include drilling new foundations to bedrock.
Casings for concrete shafts on their way from Oklahoma and Washington state.
(See: Wilmington News Journal)
Local Firms Shut Out of Repair
There is an uproar from local firms and lawmakers over a decision to exclude local contractors from leading the repairs on the I-495 bridge that crosses the Christina River in Wilmington.
The Wilmington News Journal reports that the Delaware Department of Transportation has contracted with a Pennsylvania company to do the work.
The paper says DelDOT refused to confirm the award of bid and said it will explain its reasoning later.
The company’s Facebook page has photos of J. D. Eckman work crews who have been on the job for a week.
Meanwhile, Bob Field with Eastern Highway Specialists Inc of Wilmington has written to lawmakers calling the decision a serious breach of trust between DelDOT and local contractors.
And one lawmaker told the paper that state legislators have drafted a measure that would require DelDOT to issue emergency, no-bid contracts only to Delaware companies…unless a state firm could not meet the needs of the project.
Dirt Is Clean
DOVER, Del. (AP) - State officials say samples from a massive mound of dirt believed to have caused a nearby interstate bridge in Delaware to tilt show no dangerous contaminants.
State environmental official Tim Ratsep said Monday that test results on the dirt showed only low levels of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or uncombusted carbon. He said that is typical of soils next to roadways because of asphalt.
The finding cleared the way for officials to approve storage of the dirt on a developer-owned parcel in south Wilmington.
Official believe the weight of the dirt caused columns supporting the Interstate 495 bridge to tilt, forcing its emergency closure that started last week.
With the dirt mound removed, engineers are focusing on shoring up the bridge so that it is safe to carry traffic again.