Repair work on the drawbridge crossing the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal into Rehoboth is set to begin in April.
Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman C.R. McLeod said after a year-long delay the contractor, Maine-based Cianbro Corp, can begin as soon as it receives a notice to proceed. He said the contract stipulates they must be done by Aug. 31.
In an email Feb. 21, McLeod said Cianbro was awarded the contract with a bid of approximately $9.5 million in November, which also includes similar rehabilitation work on the canal drawbridge in Lewes.
McLeod said the first round of bids were too high, so the project was rebid. He said in the second round, timing is more flexible, which he believes contributed to the better bids.
He said the contract doesn’t stipulate which bridge the company must complete first, but it does give a deadline for Rehoboth. It also says the company cannot impact traffic in Lewes while the Lewes sewer/water project is ongoing.
McLeod said bridge repair work in Rehoboth includes replacing the existing drive system that raises and lowers the drawbridge, and upgrading the bridge’s mechanical and electrical systems. There are also minor structural repairs being made, and the structural steel components will be coated, he said.
McLeod said during construction in Rehoboth there will be occasional lane shifts with nighttime lane closures and detours. However, he said, detours will be done outside the peak summer tourist season.
McLeod said rehabilitation of this bridge, and the Lewes drawbridge, will extend their service lives and help DelDOT meet its performance measures related to maintaining bridges in a state of good repair.
According to DelDOT statistics presented in public workshops in July 2017, an average of 22,000 cars per day use the bridge with a peak use of 30,000 cars per day. The Lewes drawbridge has an average daily traffic of 10,000 cars per day.
DelDOT officials say each bridge is raised an average of 12 times per year. Rehoboth’s bridge is more than 30 years old, while the Lewes drawbridge is closer to 40 years old.
The third bridge crossing the canal, on Route 1 heading toward Dewey Beach, is also expected to be repaired in the not-too-distant future. McLeod said the construction on that bridge is slated to begin in August 2019.
According to DelDOT, this project involves replacing the bridge's concrete decks, approach slabs, joints and bearings; correcting the vertical alignment; realigning the beams; repairing concrete chipping; strengthening concrete piers; sealing concrete abutments and piers; and stabilizing the canal banks.