Attention Mariners: Clearance Levels Changing for Indian River Inlet Bridge
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) wants boat owners and operators to be aware of changing navigation conditions beneath the new Indian River Inlet Bridge over the coming weeks and months in order to maintain safety. In response to concerns raised about the horizontal clearance beneath the bridge, DelDOT has worked with Senator George Bunting, Representative Gerald Hocker, the U.S. Coast Guard, Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Inc., the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's (DNREC) Delaware Seashore State Park staff and local mariners to keep the inlet accessible throughout construction.
As the form travelers move closer together toward the midpoint of the inlet, the width of the navigational channel continues to decrease, causing concern for boat captains who traverse the inlet waterway. Because it is peak fishing season there is generally an increase in the number of boats in the area. In addition, there are fishing tournaments scheduled for the next several weeks.
To address these conditions Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Inc. and DelDOT engineers are modifying the construction sequencing for this portion of the project. The sequence of the remaining form traveler advancements has been altered to allow for a navigable waterway to be maintained.
Therefore, DelDOT wishes to advise mariners of the contractor's plans for the movement and eventual removal of the northside form traveler over the next month. Currently, the distance between the northside and southside form travelers is approximately 88 feet. The underclearance of the existing bridge over this portion of the channel is approximately 35 feet above the mean high water elevation. With the next advancement of the northside traveler expected to occur on or about July 30, the remaining clear width of the main channel will be reduced to approximately 64 feet. This condition will exist for a period of approximately two weeks. The southside form traveler will not move during this time. This will provide acceptable clearance levels for most boaters during peak fishing season. During this time, other work will continue on various aspects of bridge construction, thus permitting, the bridge project to progress towards the anticipated opening of (two lanes on) the new bridge to traffic late this year.
By mid-August, the northside form traveler work will be completed and the traveler will be lowered onto a barge and shipped off site. During this operation, the U.S. Coast Guard will assist by briefly closing the inlet waterway for approximately 2 to 5 hours, or as needed to complete the operation and move the barge. While a specific date has not been established for this operation, DelDOT and Skanska will continue to keep mariners informed of the construction schedule as the work progresses. All parties are committed to working in a way that will minimize impacts to the greatest extent possible.
DelDOT will continue to work with Skanska to identify means of re-sequencing work in order to open the bridge to traffic towards the end of the year. Potential costs of the re-sequencing are being evaluated, but DelDOT believes these costs will be considerably less than the potential economic and safety impacts associated with a prolonged impact to mariners.
Please note that the work on the form traveler will have no impact on motorists.
For more information on this project, visit the website at www.irib.deldot.gov. Mariner-specific information can be found under the Public Safety/Mariners tab.