Lewes swing bridge project gets back on track

DelDOT contractor to start assembling new crane in mid-February to resume lift and move
February 4, 2022

Story Location:
Gills Neck Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

There is progress on the project to lift and move the historic Lewes railroad swing bridge from its Lewes-Rehoboth Canal location.

Contractor Richard .E. Pierson is scheduled to start assembling a new, larger crane Monday, Feb. 14, at the site on Gills Neck Road in Lewes, according to Charles “C.R.” McLeod, Delaware Department of Transportation director of community relations.

McLeod said components and counterweights for the 900-ton crane will be transported to the site on more than 20 tractor-trailers.

He said a timeline to move the structure will be determined and released at a later date. This week, a crew is on hand working to prepare the site for the new crane.

Removal of the 105-year-old steel bridge was abruptly halted Dec. 1 when the contractor determined the weight of the bridge was much more than estimated. The crane proposed for the lift was not large enough to safely hoist the bridge onto a truck for transport to a permanent display site.

It was later determined that the steel swing bridge weighs 102.5 tons, which is 32 tons more than the estimated 70 tons used to plan the project.

The swing bridge, one of the last remaining hand-cranked railroad bridges in the country, has not been used for nearly five years. It was deemed unsafe in 2017 and closed after the discovery that scouring around its supports in the canal had dropped the bridge's foundation 7 to 8 inches.

The Lewes Junction Railroad & Bridge Association saved the bridge from being scrapped. Through the cooperation of DelDOT, the City of Lewes and the association, a plan was developed to save the bridge and find a location to display it.

Some work has been completed on the permanent display area along the trail from Lewes to Cape Henlopen State Park at the end of American Legion Road.

The $2.2 million project also includes removal of the embankment on the marsh side of the canal, and construction of a trailhead and fishing area at the end of the trail along the canal side.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter