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Delaware Memorial Bridge Approach Enters Third Leg

Fri September 25, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

The third phase of a project to improve the approach to the Delaware Memorial Bridge on Interstate 295 northbound is moving along toward its proposed 2010 completion date.

The $26 million contract, which was awarded to Mumford and Miller of Middletown, Del., is a collaborative effort between the Delaware Department of Transportation and the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

“The reason that we collaborated with DelDOT is that our properties abut one another, and in the interest of minimizing inconvenience to the traveling public, we thought we would work together,” said Joe Volk, senior engineer and project manager. “Their stretch of highway needed improvement, our stretch of highway needed improvement, and it’s always best to the traveling public when you can combine efforts like this, versus having two different initiatives, perhaps at two different times, disrupting the public.”

Volk noted that the collaborative effort has worked well, from planning through design and construction.

“They have been involved in decision-making meetings,” he said. “We meet often, and I think it has worked well. They seem pleased, and we are pleased as well.”

The project began in May 2008 and involves the intersection of I-295 and U.S. 13. It focuses primarily on I-295 northbound. It involves the highway, bridges that service the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and ramps that provide exit and entrance off of I-295. Three overpass bridges will be eliminated, and another overpass bridge and ramp will be rehabilitated.

The main reason for the job is safety improvements.

“There’s a lot of activity in that 1.6 miles,” Volk said. “You have I-95 and 495 feeding into I -295 right there at the I-295/US 13 interchange, so there’s a lot happening, and you have a lot of crossover traffic. What this project will do is improve on the safety posture of all those movements.”

Another reason that the job is necessary is because of the age of the infrastructure. The interstate and bridges were built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and federal guidelines have continued to be enhanced and improved over time. The improvements will comply with current federal guidelines.

As with other projects, Volk reported that the number one challenge with the project has been in balancing the need to get the work done with ensuring the safety of the traveling public.

“The challenge is keeping that interstate open, not causing backups, not causing inconveniences to the public, and making sure that there is safe passage through the construction zone, but also trying to get the job done,” he said. “It’s an active construction zone. We still have to maintain operational capacity through the construction zone, so that’s our number one challenge.”

This challenge also led to an incentive for the contractor. The overall completion date in the contract is two years from the start date. Trimming 200 days off the completion time is worth $1,000 a day.

The project involves 1.6 mi. (2.6 km), roughly 180,000 cu. yds. (137,620 cu m) of borrow, and 194,000 cu. yds. (148,324 cu m) of excavation. Most of the earth was imported on the job.

Standard off-road heavy equipment is being used on the job, including bulldozers, graders, excavators, cranes, pavers, milling machines, rollers and dump trucks.

The majority of the work is being done by the general contractor. However, subcontractors include Collinson Inc. for guide rail and sign structures, Dudor Electric for electric work, and Abel Fencing for all fencing.

Phase I was completed by Greggo and Ferrar of New Castle, Del., and Phase II was completed by Daisy Construction, also of New Castle. The fourth phase of the project will involve the same stretch of highway in a southbound direction. Ground will most likely be broken for this phase in 2011. CEG

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