Final concrete pour marks a milestoneIndian River Inlet bridge is 90 percent complete
On Oct. 18, there were smiles all around atop the Indian River Inlet bridge. “This is a big step and a major milestone; a critical point in a long project,” said Doug Robb, Delaware Department of Transportation project manager.
The milestone was the final concrete pour to tie the north and south sides of the bridge decking together. The pour of 65 cubic yards of concrete along a 10-foot wide section took about six hours and went into the night as workers tried to beat the rain. DelDOT officials say the bridge is now 90 percent complete.
The final pour was one of 450 pours and more than 4,000 truck loads of concrete used to build the span. More then 36,000 cubic yards of concrete has been poured over the past two years, which is enough to cover an acre with 22 feet of concrete.
DelDOT officials joined representatives from builders Skanska USA Civil Southeast for the final pour.
That doesn’t mean the $150 million bridge project is complete, said DelDOT spokeswoman Tina Shockley. At least another two months of work will be required before two lanes of the new bridge will be open to traffic. It will be another six months before work is completed to open all four lanes.
In the coming months, remaining projects include electrical work and lighting, stay cable tensioning, load balancing, addition of a polymer-based concrete protective overlay on the deck and installation of a pedestrian barrier. In addition, the highway must still be tied to both sides of the bridge. The southbound tie will be completed first followed by the north approach, which will be completed in the spring of 2012, Shockley said. Once that project is complete, all four lanes of the bridge will be open to traffic. After that occurs, dismantling of the old bridge will begin. Steel will be recycled and concrete will be used to create an artificial reef in the Delaware Bay.
Robb said over the next several weeks, the builders will fine-tune the bridge by adjusting the cable stays to achieve the right tension and the right shape of the bridge.
The remaining form traveler, which has enabled crews to work under the bridge and over the inlet, will be removed by the end of October.
A specific date for the official opening of two lanes cannot be set in stone, Shockley said. While crews are shooting for a December opening, it’s possible the opening could also be in January.
Shockley said Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee delayed the project. “While it is still possible that DelDOT could potentially open the bridge by year’s end, it is too soon to know for certain,” she said. “DelDOT expects to be able to announce a completion schedule by the end of November.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place to open the bridge’s first two lanes with a bridge crossing event and dedication ceremony planned when all four lanes are open to traffic in the spring of 2012.
Actual construction of the bridge began in January 2009.