Delaware Memorial Bridge

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Delaware Memorial Bridge
Del Mem Br.jpg
Carries 8 lanes of I-295 / US 40
Crosses Delaware River
Locale New Castle, Delaware and Pennsville Township, New Jersey
Maintained by Delaware River and Bay Authority
ID number 1737
Design steel suspension bridge
Total length 10,765 feet (3,281 m) (eastbound)
10,796 feet (3,291 m) (westbound)
Width 59.1 feet (18 m) (eastbound)
58.7 feet (18 m) (westbound)
Longest span 2,150 feet (655 m)
Vertical clearance 17.9 feet (5 m)
Clearance below 174 feet (53 m)
Opened August 16, 1951; 62 years ago (1951-08-16) (eastbound)
September 12, 1968; 45 years ago (1968-09-12) (westbound)
Toll Cars $4.00 (westbound) (E-ZPass)
Daily traffic 90,000
Coordinates 39°41′21″N 75°31′08″W / 39.68927°N 75.51897°W / 39.68927; -75.51897Coordinates: 39°41′21″N 75°31′08″W / 39.68927°N 75.51897°W / 39.68927; -75.51897
Delaware Memorial Bridge aerial, 2012. Wilmington, Delaware is at top right of photo.
Delaware Memorial Bridge, approaching eastbound from the Delaware side, October 2005.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a set of twin suspension bridges crossing the Delaware River. The toll bridges carry Interstate 295 and U.S. Route 40 between Delaware and New Jersey. The bridge was designed by the firm known today as HNTB with consulting help from famous engineer Othmar Ammann, whose other designs include the Walt Whitman Bridge (which is similar in appearance, except for the additional travel lanes and shorter center span) and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It is also one of only two crossings of the Delaware River with both U.S. Highway and Interstate Highway designations, the other being the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The bridges provide an important regional connection for long-distance travelers.[1] While not a part of Interstate 95, they connect two parts of the highway: the Delaware Turnpike (Interstate 95 in Delaware) on the south side with the New Jersey Turnpike (later Interstate 95 in New Jersey) on the north side. They also connect Interstate 495, U.S. Route 13, and Route 9 in New Castle, Delaware with U.S. Route 130 in Pennsville Township, New Jersey (at the settlement of Deepwater, New Jersey).

The bridges are dedicated to those from both New Jersey and Delaware who died in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. On the Delaware side of the bridge is a War Memorial, visible from the northbound side lanes. The toll facility is operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge is the southernmost fixed vehicular crossing of the Delaware River and the only fixed vehicular crossing between Delaware and New Jersey. However, at Fort Mott, N.J., there is a small amount of land on the New Jersey side of the river that is part of the State of Delaware, and thus there are pedestrian crossings in between those states, but not spanning the river. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry provides an alternate route between travelers from New Jersey and the Northeastern States to southern Delaware.

History[edit]

The first span[edit]

Following the opening of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, residents of Delaware and New Jersey began to advocate a crossing of the river in the area of Wilmington, Delaware. As commercial pressures mounted, a ferry service was begun in 1926 as an interim measure, and this ran near the bridge's current location. Advocates of a bridge crossing between Delaware and New Jersey faced strong opposition from the Philadelphia Port Authorities, which claimed that the bridge would be a menace to navigation. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard were also concerned that the bridge would be vulnerable to an enemy attack. If the bridge were collapsed into the river, this could render the Philadelphia Navy Yard unusable.

As traffic by cars and truck increased rapidly, the benefits of a bridge in this area became evident, and its construction was authorized by the highway departments of Delaware and New Jersey in 1945. Originally, a two-lane highway tunnel was considered, but the costs for a four-lane bridge were found to be equivalent, hence the bridge was the choice. Congress approved the bridge project on July 13, 1946, and its construction began on February 1, 1949.

The project cost $44 million, and it took two years to complete the 175 feet (53 m) high span with towers reaching 440 feet (134 m) above water level. The first span opened to traffic on August 16, 1951, and at the time was the sixth-longest main suspension span in the world.[citation needed] The Governor of Delaware, Elbert N. Carvel, and the Governor of New Jersey, Alfred E. Driscoll, dedicated the bridge to each state's war dead from World War II.

The bridge quickly proved a popular travel route when the New Jersey Turnpike connection was completed at its north end. By 1955, nearly eight million vehicles were crossing the bridge each year, nearly twice the original projection. By 1960, the bridge was carrying more than 15 million cars and trucks per year, and this increased even more when the bridge was linked to the new Delaware Turnpike, Interstate 95, in November, 1963.

The second span[edit]

Construction of the second span began in mid-1964, 250 feet (76 m) north of the original span. At a cost of $77 million, the second span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge opened on September 12, 1968, and was dedicated to those soldiers from Delaware and New Jersey killed in the Korean War and Vietnam War. The original span was closed down for fifteen months for refurbishment: its suspenders were replaced and its deck and median barrier were removed and replaced with a single deck to allow four undivided lanes of traffic. Finally, on December 29, 1969, all eight lanes of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span opened to traffic, making it the world's second longest twin suspension bridge.[2]

While they are similar in basic appearance, major differences can be seen between the original and second spans. The original span was constructed of riveted steel plates, and it has an open-grate shoulder access walk. In contrast, the second span was constructed mostly of welded steel plates (with heavy riveted joints in crucial areas) and it has concrete access walks.[3]

The original suspension span carries northbound traffic for Interstate 295, whereas the newer span carries the southbound traffic. Crossover lanes on each side of the bridge can allow for two-way traffic on one span if the other has to be closed for an extensive period of time.

From 1969 to today[edit]

Delaware River and Bay Authority headquarters in the bridge toll plaza.

The bridge had a close call with disaster when on July 9, 1969, the oil tanker Regent Liverpool struck the fender system protecting the tower piers. The bridge itself was spared damage, but the fender suffered about $1.0 million in damage.

The Delaware River and Bay Authority began a $13 million project in 2003 to resurface the bridge, refurbish the expansion joints, upgrade the electrical system, and replace the elevators in the four towers. This work was completed in 2008.

As of 2012, more than 50,000 vehicles cross the twin spans on their combined total of eight lanes daily.

On clear days, the skyline of Philadelphia is visible in the distance on the left going to New Jersey and on the right leaving New Jersey. Wilmington, Delaware, only a few miles away from the bridge, is also visible. Other landmarks that can be seen from the bridge includes the cooling tower for PSEG's Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station near Salem, New Jersey, the Delaware City Refinery in Delaware City, Delaware, the Reedy Point Bridge, also in Delaware City, both the St. Georges and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridges in St. Georges, Delaware, and the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, Pennsylvania.

The largest single day of traffic on one of the bridges had 72,249 private and commercial vehicles cross the bridge one-way on November 29, 1998. The largest single weekend for traffic totals had 194,199 vehicles cross the bridge one-way, July 24–26, 1998.[4]

Toll[edit]

Delaware Memorial Bridge toll plaza
  • $4.00[5] for passenger vehicles exiting New Jersey into Delaware. Toll plaza located on Delaware side before Delaware Route 9 (New Castle Ave.) exit.
  • No toll for traffic exiting Delaware into New Jersey, as one-way tolls were instituted in 1992.
  • E-ZPass compatible.
  • Frequent Traveler discounts available
  • About $270,000 in tolls are collected daily[6]

Prior to the introduction of E-ZPass, both tokens and frequent traveler tickets were used, with special, discounted ticket books for local residents. They were phased out upon the introduction of the new system, and the tokens are no longer valid.

War Memorial[edit]

Since opening of the first bridge in 1951, annual ceremonies are held at the bridge's War Memorial on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to honor the sacrifices of American war veterans. The memorial is located in New Castle, Delaware, and it features a reflecting pool, a statue of a soldier, and a wall containing the names of 15,000 men and women from Delaware and New Jersey who were killed in World War II, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interstate 95 North Delaware". www.aaroads.com. 2007-12-29. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  2. ^ "The world's second longest twin suspension bridge". Delaware River and Bay Authority. 2010. Archived from the original on 2014-2-6. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  3. ^ Delaware Memorial Bridge[dead link]
  4. ^ "About the Delaware Memorial Bridge". Delaware River and Bay Authority. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  5. ^ "Current Tolls". Drba.net. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  6. ^ magicmanzach. "Delaware Memorial Bridge". Retrieved 2011-08-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Miller, William J. (1983). Crossing the Delaware: The Story of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Longest Twin-Suspension Bridge in the World. Middle Atlantic. ISBN 978-0-911293-02-9. 

External links[edit]