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DE Bridge to Get New Protection from Ships

Friday, January 13, 2017

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A $460 million capital improvement project being undertaken by the Delaware River and Bay Authority includes a project that will develop a new ship collision protection system for the twin spans of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The News Journal reports that the plan for the protective structure comes as a result of a federal mandate that calls for extra measures to ensure bridge safety nationwide.

Project Specs

An application to the Army Corps of Engineers from DRBA says that the authority “believes that the existing fender system surrounding the bridge piers is outdate and inadequate to protect the bridge from collisions with the larger and modern vessels entering the Delaware River.” It says the new system will be designed to protect the piers from a vessel of 156,000 deadweight tons moving at a speed of 7 knots.

Delaware Memorial Bridge
Images: Delaware River and Bay Authority

A new capital improvement plan includes the development of a ship collision protection system for the twin spans of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

While the system hasn’t been fully designed yet—DRBA has allocated $1.2 million in 2017 for preliminary risk assessment and planning work—the Army Corps application says the system would consist of eight solid-fill dolphin cells, each 80 feet in diameter. The cells would be “constructed of interlocking steel sheet piles driven into the river bottom by a vibratory hammer,” according to the document. They would then be filled with gravel and sand and capped with concrete.

Other Bridge Improvements

Additional work on the twin spans is ordered in the coming years as part of the capital improvement project. DRBA is budgeting $16.75 million over the next two years for the continuation of a cable preservation project, which includes the installation of airtight wraps around the bridges’ main cables, and dehumification plants inside the anchorages.

Delaware Memorial dehumidification project

Other capital expenditures include the continuation of a cable preservation project, which includes the installation of airtight wraps around the bridges’ main cables, and dehumification plants inside the anchorages.

The authority also anticipates replacing 272 suspension ropes and brackets over the next five years. The capital program also includes, among other projects, rehabilitation to Sandman Boulevard and I-295.

“The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a vital link in the I-95 north-south corridor, while the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is integral to the local tourism economy of the Cape May and Sussex Counties,” Lowe said. “We take our fiduciary responsibility to maintain these important infrastructure assets very seriously. The 2017 CIP and five year strategic plan to make certain that the public continues to enjoy safe, efficient, and sound transportation services under the agency’s management.”

Collision Concerns

The News Journal reports that there has been only one significant ship collision in the history of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Still, ship collisions remain a constant concern. In November, a river cruise ship operated by American Cruise Lines collided with the Main Street bridge in Jacksonville, FL, forcing the shutdown of the span.

   

Tagged categories: Bridge Piles; Bridges; concrete; Government; Infrastructure; North America; Program/Project Management; Steel

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