EDITOR'S NOTE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced April 18 that it would be postponing the bridge closure for one week due to inclement weather this weekend. The article has been amended to include the new dates of the planned closure.
The entire length of Summit Bridge will be closed to traffic from 10 p.m. Friday, April 26, until 5 a.m. Monday, April 29.
Officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the closure is needed so heavy cranes can paint the highest sections of the bridge and replace sections of the concrete barrier wall that separates the north and southbound lanes of traffic.
"We have to use cranes to move those barriers and having them on the bridge makes it unsafe for vehicular traffic," said Dovi Meles, a spokesman for the Corps' Philadelphia district office, which controls the 54-year-old over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
This weekend's closure will be the latest headache to result from the ongoing repairs and enhancements to the 52-year-old bridge.
Roadway repaving, reconstruction of the approaches on either side of the bridge, and now a repainting of the structure have resulted in periodic full closures and more frequent single-lane closures since 2006.
Traffic on the bridge has been restricted to one lane in either direction since March and will continue to be held to one lane each way for the remainder of the project.
The current project, which began in late 2011, was planned to reinforce the bridge beam and trusses while sandblasting off the bridge's gray lead-based paint and replacing it with a new coat colored deep-water blue.
Along the way, however, the sandblasting by contractor Marinis Brothers of New Castle uncovered the need for additional work, including the replacement of expansion joints and repairs to steel beams and concrete barriers.
Once completed, the latest phase of the project will have cost $12 million and taken two years to complete.
Meles said next weekend's full bridge closure is expected to be the final time the Corps will shut down all four lanes on the span to accommodate the project.
"We're on target to be finished by the end of the summer, so we should be done by late August or early September," he said.
Next weekend, motorists heading north on U.S. Route 301 are directed to take Boyds Corner Road east to northbound U.S. Route 13, Del. Route 1, Del. Route 72 and U.S. Route 40 to get back to U.S. Route 301/Del. Route 896.
Motorists heading south on U.S. Route 301/Del. Route 896 are directed to take U.S. Route 40 east to southbound Del. Route 72 and Del. Route 1 before exiting onto U.S. Route 13 and taking Boyds Corner Road back to U.S. Route 301.