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Middletown Transcript
  • Summit Bridge work to soon pause for winter, restart in spring

  • All four lanes of Summit Bridge soon will be re-opened for the first time in nearly 10 months, when a long-running rehabilitation project on the span pauses for the winter.
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  • THE DETAILS
    All four lanes of Summit Bridge soon will be re-opened for the first time in nearly 10 months, when a long-running rehabilitation project on the span pauses for the winter.
    But when exactly that will happen remains unclear.
    The Delaware Department of Transportation is listing Nov. 22 as the anticipated final day of work, but officials with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said this week that it could take a little longer.
    “Nov. 22 is a likely date, but we really don’t have a date certain at this point,” said Rich Pearsall, a spokesman for the Corps’ Philadelphia district office, which operates the 52-year-old bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. “We’re still hoping to get some additional steel work done before the weather changes and then it will take some additional time to get all the equipment down.”
    That means the bridge that carries U.S. Route 301 and Del. Routes 71 and 896 could still be limited to one lane in either direction until mid-December, he said.
    BACKGROUND
    The Army Corps was hoping to have completed the Summit Bridge rehabilitation project in the fall.
    But, Pearsall said, weather and other factors have now pushed the anticipated completion date back to early summer of 2014.
    It’s just the latest in a series of delays that have affected the ongoing bridge repair and enhancement project that first began in 2006.
    “It’s been a long haul on this project, that’s for sure,” Pearsall said. “Hopefully, the end is in sight.”
    The latest phase of the project, which began in 2011, was initially slated to include reinforcements to the bridge’s beams and trusses, sandblasting the structure’s gray, lead-based paint and replacing it with a new coat of deep-water blue.
    However, the sandblasting by contractor Marinis Brothers of New Castle uncovered the need for additional work, including major repairs to steel beams and concrete barriers, as well as the replacement of several expansion joints.
    Once completed, the latest phase of the project will have cost in excess of $12 million and taken three years to complete, during which time traffic over the span has been limited to a single lane in either direction for months at a time.
    WHAT’S NEXT
    While all four lanes of the bridge should be open soon, the reprieve for motorists will be only temporary.
    “There is still about two more months of work left to be completed,” Pearsall said. “That means we would most likely resume the project at the end of March or early April.”
    Page 2 of 2 - That means the project possibly could be wrapped up by early summer.
    “That’s our hope,” he said. “Although it’s already taken a lot longer to get this project finished than anyone expected, so I don’t want to make any promises at this point.”

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