The northbound lanes of the Interstate 495 bridge spanning the Christina River in Wilmington have reopened more than a week ahead of projections, restoring traffic in both directions, Delaware Secretary of Transportation Shailen Bhatt announced Aug. 23.
The southbound lanes were reopened July 31. The entire span was closed June 2 after inspectors discovered four of the bridge’s 37 piers had been damaged and the structure was leaning.
Federal and state investigators believe a 50,000-ton pile of fill dirt adjacent to the bridge had weakened the piers.
Earlier this month, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control sent out violation notices to Alma Properties and E I Dupont Denemours & Company Inc. for “land disturbing activity” regarding the stockpiles of soil materials placed near the bridge.
The I-495 bridge span bypasses Wilmington, and is a major artery carrying freight throughout the region and along the East Coast. Its closure has caused much of the traffic to spill onto the already congested I-95 that cuts through the heart of Wilmington. The 4,800-foot bridge normally carries approximately 90,000 vehicles per day.
“Fully reopening this vital economic link in Delaware and along the Northeast in less than three months is a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many individuals,” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in a statement.