Wilmington, Del. — The northbound lanes of I-495 through Wilmington were reopened to traffic following the successful realignment of the I-495 Bridge spanning the Christina River, Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt announced. The southbound lanes were reopened July 31. Traffic is now fully restored to the bridge in both directions.
The full reopening of the bridge is occurring earlier than anticipated due to significant time savings achieved during the work to construct new underground support columns. The process to jack the southbound and northbound sides of the bridge back into alignment also went smoothly. Both operations could have taken substantially more time if problems had been encountered.
"Fully reopening this vital economic link in Delaware and along the northeast in less than three months is a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many individuals," said Governor Markell. "Getting this work done quickly was important, but the safety of the traveling public and the many job site workers was very important too. I want to thank Secretary Bhatt, the entire project team at DelDOT, and all of the contractors who gave so much to this project over the last few months. I also want to thank the City for its partnership and our congressional delegation for their support. Finally, I want to thank the traveling public for their patience as DelDOT has worked around the clock to get this highway back in service."
I-495 has been closed to traffic since June 2 when the interstate, which parallels I-95 and serves as a bypass through Wilmington, was shut down due to an unsafe bridge condition in both directions of travel. The 4,800 foot bridge normally carries approximately 90,000 vehicles per day.
Realigning the tilted bridge has been a collaborative effort between DelDOT, Delaware's Congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, AECOM and J.D. Eckman, Inc. Various Delaware-based subcontractors and construction trades have also been employed on the project, which has an estimated cost of $45 million. Delaware's congressional delegation was instrumental in helping to secure emergency relief funding from the Federal Highway Administration that will pay 100 percent of the costs to reopen the Interstate.
"Although the permanent repairs to the bridge are still underway, we are all pleased to be able to restore traffic for the tens of thousands of motorists who use this highway every day," Secretary Bhatt said. "Equally important is that from June 3 through today, we have received nothing but support and cooperation from all of our federal, state, and local partners."
"The full reopening of the I-495 bridge is a great accomplishment that will improve commutes for thousands of Delawareans every day," said Senator Carper, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. "Gov. Markell and Transportation Sec. Bhatt have worked tirelessly to complete this complicated and challenging project and their hard work has paid off as the bridge reopens ahead of schedule. The improved I-495 bridge is an example of the incredible work that can be done when the federal government partners with states to make critical investments in our country's transportation infrastructure that boost the economy, decrease traffic congestion and improve safety for American families."
"Having both directions of I-495 open again brings great joy and relief to every one of those 90,000 drivers who use this highway on a daily basis," said Senator Coons. "Achieving the goals of completing the project under deadline is an impressive feat, when you think about how many teams worked on this project. I want to again thank Sec. Bhatt, his team at DelDOT, and every engineer, project manager and construction person who has worked nights, weekends and holidays getting this bridge back to operating condition."
"This is very good news for the thousands of drivers who use I-495 everyday, as well as the communities and businesses who have been dealing with a flood of unexpected traffic for the last few months," said Congressman Carney. "DelDOT should be applauded for leading a group of federal, state, and local partners to get the bridge repaired safely and ahead of schedule. It also would not have happened without those who have been working day and night to make the needed repairs. I'm grateful for their hard work and commitment. I can't wait to check Google Maps and see I-495 up and running again."