Within a year, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) plans to replace a bridge in downtown Selbyville. Representatives held a workshop on March 3 to explain why.
According to Project Engineer Percival McNeil, the Main Street bridge over the Sandy Branch is still in fine shape. However, the water is passing through a corrugated pipe that is not.
“What happens is, fill (dirt) starts coming in through the back, and then you get a dip in the road,” McNeil pointed out.
McNeil said the bridge was built in 1968, and the water had begun to chew holes in the pipe.
He suspected runoff from the periphery of the Mountaire facility, just upstream, probably had some contributing effect.
Supervising Engineer Barry Benton added, “With runoff from crops and all the chicken houses around here, it’s just a real corrosive environment.”
DelDOT plans to replace the pipe with a concrete culvert, which has a much greater life expectancy — 70 to 100 years.
McNeil estimated it would take DelDOT 60 days to complete the work, mainly in groundwork.
“The hardest part is erosion and sediment control — getting the hole prepared,” Benton pointed out.
Per Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) requirements, he said they would lay down a foot of natural streambed material over the concrete.
North and south of the bridge, they planned to lay topsoil over the riprap — “You won’t even know it’s there,” Benton stated. “You’ll probably only see concrete in the stream itself.”
Selbyville Mayor Clifton Murray stopped by to ask questions about the new culvert’s ability to pass water in a flood event.
Benton said they would design the bridge to pass 50-year storms without “over-topping” the roadway. He said a 100-year storm might over-top Main Street, but wouldn’t destroy the bridge.
There is one hiccup to the construction — the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Department stands just south of downtown, on the other side of the bridge.
Murray said the detour could create a double whammy, slowing responders to the fire station to detour, and then outgoing trucks heading north.
However, Benton said he’d spoken to the firefighters about possibly storing a few pieces of equipment north of the bridge for the duration of the construction.