New Road at Canary Creek is expected to be closed for seven months when the Delaware Department of Transportation begins a bridge replacement project in fall 2023.
DelDOT and a design team from Whitman, Requardt and Associates unveiled a timeline and the latest preliminary plans for New Road and the bridge during a virtual public workshop Aug. 31.
The existing timber bridge was built in 1989, and it 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. It was last inspected in 2019, when it was rated as being in fair condition.
The project is still in the preliminary design phase, and DelDOT is expected to begin right-of-way acquisition this winter and develop final plans in 2022. Start of construction is expected after Labor Day 2023 with completion targeted for spring 2024.
The plan is to build the new bridge and roadway to the 100-year flood elevation, meaning the new bridge will be 7.2 feet higher than it is today. The road surface from Schaffer Lane to Captains Circle will also be raised to the 100-year flood level.
The bridge will comprise two 45-foot spans, one over Canary Creek and the second over marsh area to allow wildlife to pass under. A 10-foot-wide, shared-use path will run the entire length of the project area parallel to the roadway, which is planned to have 11-foot travel lanes and 6-foot shoulders.
With much of the road raised well above the existing level, WRA roadway designer Chris Holloway said there will be a retaining wall along the roadway varying from 4 to 9.5 feet high. John Paul Devereaux, a project engineer with WRA, said the retaining walls will have some sort of aesthetic treatment, but it will not be determined until final design. The bridge will have an open railing to ensure drivers can see the creek and marshland, he said.
There will be ditches on either side of the roadway to convey stormwater, and the new road will include drains on the surface to ensure no flooding occurs.
Diane Rubin, an environmental engineer with WRA, said the new bridge and road design will not affect flooding of the greater tidal floodplain, as tides continue to be the biggest contributor to nuisance flooding. She said the Lewes Waterfront Preserve and Tower Hill developments were included in flood models used for the project.
For the half-dozen homes along New Road east of Canary Creek, driveways will be built to accommodate the new road height with a slope of 10 feet out for every 1 foot down.
During a public workshop in 2020, DelDOT said it was targeting 2024 for the start of construction, but has now moved it up to fall 2023. That means it will likely coincide with the early phases of the Old Orchard Road realignment project. Jason Hastings, DelDOT’s chief of bridges and structures, said initial work in the three-year Old Orchard project includes relocation of utilities as well as work on the Wescoats Corner side of Savannah Road, so they can occur simultaneously.
While New Road is closed for construction, traffic will be diverted onto Old Orchard Road. DelDOT plans to install a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Old Orchard and Savannah roads, and set up signage on Route 1 to encourage drivers to use Savannah Road.
The PowerPoint presentation and video of the public workshop can be found by searching for “Canary Creek” at deldot.gov/projects.