The infrastructure problems we hear about all over the country aren't really meaningful until they hit close to home, as it has on a bridge on I-495 over the Christina River in Delaware.
According to the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the bridge has been closed because four pairs of 50-foot high piers supporting the bridge are leaning to the east, with the worst pier 4 percent out of vertical alignment, placing the top of the pier about two feet out of line from the bottom. The bridge was last inspected in October 2012 and showed no signs of leaning or other deficiencies, according to DelDOT.
After preliminary inspections, engineers say the bridge is not currently at risk of collapse, but the bridge needs to be temporarily braced and shored up before the deck can be leveled. "We're considering a variety of different options," said DelDOT's chief engineer Robert McCleary, "Once we feel the structure is stable and able to hold a live load, then, and only then, can we open it to traffic."
The affected segment of I-495 carries an average of 90,000 vehicles a day — and the closure could take a matter of weeks or months until the bridge is considered stable.
Complaints are being heard from travelers who talk about inconvenience and delays of an hour or more to get to their destinations. DART First State has warned that bus routes will likely experience delays of at least 20 minutes during the morning rush period, and truckers headed to the Port of Wilmington are being detoured via I–95, I-295 and Del. 9.
Meanwhile, legislation aimed at funding infrastructure projects has been languishing in Congress for a long time with no progress in sight. Time to contact your congressman?