Wilmington, Del. — The work to construct new underground foundations for the damaged portion of the I-495 bridge is nearing completion and construction of the jacking towers that will be used to temporarily repair the I-495 bridge has begun. Building the jacking towers at this point in the project means the work is now advancing ahead of schedule, and if all continues to go smoothly, could allow I-495 southbound to open several weeks prior to the Labor Day holiday weekend.
DelDOT and its consultant engineers said from the outset there are two critical tasks necessary for the successful reopening I-495. The first critical task is to drill 32 new shafts down to bedrock to create of new support columns. The drilling of the new shafts is now expected to be complete by Tuesday next week, July 15, and the construction of new columns will be done shortly thereafter. This is possible because the drilling operation has gone exceedingly well, and because all of the necessary personnel, material and equipment have converged from around the United States on the site when needed.
The second critical task is to build the jacking towers on the new foundations beneath the bridge and jack the misaligned deck components back into place. The jacking towers are being assembled now. Once completed, powerful jacks will be placed below the deck and the slow process of realignment will begin. How well this phase of the work will go is unknown, and the possibility does exist for setbacks or problems to occur, DelDOT cautions.
If the jacking operation goes as well as the previous work, the southbound lanes could open well before Labor Day although a specific date is unknowable at this point.
"I am deeply impressed by the professionalism and 'can-do' spirit of everyone involved in this project," said Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt. "It is evident from the pace of construction that the entire team has been seamlessly moving from one stage of work to the next, while also conducting operations simultaneously. During my frequent visits to the site, I'm impressed at how well coordinated and efficient everyone is working."