The New Road bridge over Canary Creek is set to be replaced in 2024.
The new span will be built to the 100-year flood elevation, which is significantly higher than the existing bridge. The Delaware Department of Transportation unveiled plans for the $13 million project during two virtual workshops June 25 and June 30.
The existing bridge is 30 years old and often floods during coastal storms and high tides, resulting in road closures or dangerous conditions for motorists. It is 30 feet long and has a clearance of only 2.9 feet from the normal water surface under the bridge.
The new bridge is proposed to be 100 feet long. It will sit 9 to 10 feet above the creek. The roadway on either side will be raised to a minimum of 7.6 feet – the existing elevation is as low as 2.7 feet at Forecastle Lane, the entrance to the Reserves at Pilottown development. The entire stretch of New Road from Schaffer Lane to Captains Circle will be raised as part of the project.
Viewers questioned why DelDOT chose to raise the bridge and road to the 100-year flood elevation and not higher to account for sea-level rise. Jason Hastings, DelDOT’s chief of bridges and structures, said sea-level rise was considered during preliminary design, but the elevation of the bridge and road would significantly impact nearby homes.
“It would be much, much higher than surrounding properties, so we would have a bridge and roadway that would never see water, yet all the properties around it would be flooded,” he said. “It just isn’t feasible to create that sort of condition. We felt like a 100-year design was kind of a good balance.”
The project includes a 10-foot shared-use path from Canary Creek Drive, east of the bridge, to Captains Circle, west of the bridge, about three-quarters of a mile in length. In the plan, the path would be separated from the roadway by a buffer. It would share the bridge, but a railing is planned between travel lanes and the path.
The road will be closed while the bridge is replaced. Bill Geschrei of Whitman, Requardt and Associates says the bridge can be built in 30 to 45 days; it could be sooner if DelDOT is willing to pay for around-the-clock construction. Geschrei said the abbreviated timeline is due to the bridge being prefabricated in a factory, transported to Lewes, and put together on site. Construction will most likely occur in the off-season, Geschrei said.
While the bridge could be built quickly, work to raise the road will likely take longer, said Hastings. He said that work will be completed in phases.
“We don’t have a time estimate as of yet,” he said. “We will be working on that as we move into final design.”
The project is slated to begin in 2024, but it is dependent on completion of the realignment of Old Orchard Road at Wescoats Corner.