Delawareans can expect new infrastructure across the state pretty soon. The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Commissioners have approved a plan to dedicate approximately $460 million to infrastructure projects within the next five years.
This agreement is under the Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is made up of funds from both the state and federal levels. According to William E. Lowe, III, chairman of the DRBA, the main goal is to improve and maintain bridges in the Delaware area, including bridges that cross into other states.
The funds couldn’t come at a better time because the Delaware River bridge is in severe need of repair right now. The bridge, which connects both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes, has been shut down due to a visible crack in one of its support beams.
While construction workers typically use an electrochemical fatigue crack sensor system that is able to detect cracks in the field as small as 0.01 inches, this crack was so large that daylight could be seen between the broken beams.
“It wasn’t a split or a break, it was a complete fracture. In other words the beam was completely pulled apart. There had been some kind of break and there was actually space, you could see daylight in between the beam,” explains Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo to NJTVNews.
The 60-year-old bridge sees over 42,000 daily commuters, and the broken component is a crucial element to the entire structure of the bridge. Inspectors suggest that it will take at least two weeks to even figure out the extent of the damage and how they can fix it. What they do know is that this type of break was caused by a storm of some sort, as it is too deep to have been caused manually.
For right now, as a temporary solution builders are constructing eight shoring towers underneath the split in order to ensure the crack doesn’t get any worse.
The bridge’s closing brings multiple delays across the entire turnpike that can be expected for at least a few months.