The Delaware Department of Transportation is looking at a European-style bridge design to replace the swing bridge crossing Cedar Creek, near Slaughter Beach. When complete, the new bridge will be the first of its kind used for vehicular traffic in the United States.
DelDOT has wanted to replace the movable swing bridge for years, and is working with Maryland-based engineer Hardesty and Hanover on the project. During a workshop in October 2021, Rodney Jarrett, principal associate for Hardesty and Hanover, said the Dutch bascule bridge design is used frequently in Europe, but it will be the first time it’s used for vehicular traffic in this country.
Two of the project goals are to maintain the current road profile, and to keep the mechanical and electrical equipment as high as possible above the waterline. The team determined the Dutch-style bascule bridge offered a cost-effective way to meet the goals, he said.
“The Dutch-style bridge is more commonly used for pedestrian bridges in Europe, and it provides a simple and effective way to span small water crossings and canals,” said Jarrett.
Hydraulic cylinders are used to open and close the span, said Jarrett. It takes about 90 seconds to get to a fully open position, and it will be at 80 degrees when fully open, he said.
In an email July 17, Charles “C.R.” McLeod, DelDOT spokesman, said the cost for the new bridge is about $32 million, with construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2024 and last for about 16 months.
As part of the demolition and reconstruction process, McLeod said Cedar Beach Road will be closed at the bridge for about 12 months. A detour will be set up, and access to adjacent streets and properties will be maintained throughout construction, he said.
More information gleaned from the workshop: The new bridge will have an expected life span of about 75 years; it will have two vehicular travel lanes, with a 5-foot-wide pedestrian/bike lane on both sides; the new bridge has infrastructure crossing the width of the road, but there will be a vehicular clearance of at least 14-feet-6-inches; the control house is also being rebuilt; in addition to the yearlong road closure, there will be temporary waterway closures.
A video of the 40-minute long workshop is available online at de.gov/slaughterbeachbridge.
Murderkill River jetties in Bowers Beach to be reconstructed
Slaughter Beach isn’t the only Delaware Bay community slated for a significant infrastructure project.
According to a public notice issued July 19, the state’s Division of Watershed Stewardship has submitted an application for a subaqueous lands permit as part of reconstructing the north and south jetties at the entrance to the Murderkill River, near Bowers Beach. The project is being done to reduce the loss of sand and sediment into the river and to reduce the need for dredging the entrance channel, said the notice.
On the north side, about 5,000 cubic yards of sediment will be excavated and placed upland of the jetty, with 13,000 tons of granite stone placed over 300 feet to create the structural cross sections. On the south side, about 7,000 cubic yards of sediment would be excavated and placed south of the jetty, with 18,500 tons of granite placed over 550 feet to create the structural cross sections. Salt-tolerant vegetation would also be planted behind the north rubble-mound.
Additionally, in accordance with Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, a Water Quality Certification is being requested by the applicant.
Documents and the application for the project are available for review by contacting Wetlands and Waterways at 302-739-9943 or by emailing DNREC_Wetlands_Waterways@delaware.gov. Comments are due by Tuesday, Aug. 8.