The new Indian River Inlet Bridge is on track to open to traffic in December, transportation officials reported this week, with the two sides of the bridge expected to meet sometime in October.
According to the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), contractor Skanska has been working on the fourth pour of 12 pours on the north side of the bridge, and on the third pour of 12 on the south side of the bridge.
Additionally, they said, new sets of stay cables are being installed with each new 24-foot section of bridge being constructed by the form travelers, which are now fully cantilevered over the inlet on both sides.
“Proper stay tensioning is critical to the support of the 300-ton form traveler system and the newly constructed bridge deck sections,” they noted.
The transition pier, which is the connection point between the traditional bridge and the cable-stay portion, will be completed over the next several months, officials said.
“It is one of the last areas to be completed because its construction has to be carefully coordinated with the construction of the cable stays in order to properly balance the loads on the bridge,” they noted.
A new segment of the bridge is being cast about every three weeks. When the work is completed on one side of the bridge, that form traveler will be jacked down to a barge and removed, followed by the second form traveler when its work is done.
Officials noted for boaters and fishermen that that while the form travelers are positioned over the inlet there will be some limited vertical clearance issues.
“The project team will continue to provide notice to boaters and fishermen when there are clearance issues,” they said, adding that the form travelers will also remain lit at night, so as to be visible.
Little or no traffic delays expected
Motorists traveling through the inlet area will have already noticed a shift in the traffic patterns that have existed there up until a month ago. The traffic configuration for Phase II limits vehicles to one lane in each direction over the existing bridge, utilizing the northbound lanes only. That traffic pattern went into place in mid-May.
Southbound cyclists are now utilizing the existing southbound lanes over the bridge while being separated from vehicular traffic. Access for northbound cyclists remains unchanged along the northbound shoulder area. This traffic pattern will remain until the new bridge is opened to traffic in December.
Motorists are being reminded that the current speed limit of 35 mph throughout the roadway approach and bridge work zones will remain in effect through the project’s completion.
“It is being enforced to protect the safety of workers and the traveling public,” officials emphasized.
DelDOT officials said they do not expect delays to be severe with traffic is reduced to one lane.
“Our studies show that there may be some delays but that they should be minimal,” they said.
Site tours and meetings continue
Site tours are available on Wednesdays during the summer months, if scheduled in advance. Three Friday site tours are also available this year to accommodate summer visitors to the area. Tours can be scheduled by submitting a request online at irib.deldot.gov or contacting DelDOT Public Relations at (302) 760-2080.
Construction Advisory Group meetings are now being held at the DelDOT field office, at 39368 Inlet Road, on the last Thursday of each month. Meeting dates and times are posted on the project Web page, at irib.deldot.gov. Minutes from past meetings are also posted on the project Web site.
For additional information on the construction of the new Indian River Inlet Bridge, go to www.irib.deldot.gov.