DelDOT preps for US 113 bridge work

MILLSBORO — Patience and understanding.
That’s what Delaware’s Department of Transportation is asking from motorists, residents and businesses in Millsboro during lane closures over a stretch of southbound US 113 and detours associated with rehabilitation of an aging bridge over 100 years old.

Single-lane closures are set to begin Oct. 14, with full closure of both southbound lanes of DuPont Boulevard scheduled for two weeks, starting Nov. 3, weather permitting. Mumford & Miller is the contractor.

“The department (DelDOT) did everything we could to ensure it stays two weeks,” said George Pierce, DelDOT Area Manager. “We have an incentive/disincentive on this. So, the contractor is actually going to be charged $12,000 a day if they’re late, or they get $12,000-a-day credit if they finish earlier.”

DelDOT has a designated detour route for cars and small trucks. It measures 1.9 miles, encompassing from US 113 Radish Road, Hickory Hill Road and Handy Road where traffic will funnel traffic onto US 113 southbound. DelDOT’s estimated detour travel time at approximately four minutes.

“There is a lot of alternative routes that people can use locally in the area,” said Mr. Pierce. “There are ways around other than the posted detour.”
Millsboro Police Department is on ready stand-by, if needed, to assist with traffic during preparatory work as well as the main bridge restoration project when US 113 southbound is completely shut down.

“I let them know, ‘We’re ready,’” said Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway. “I think some of the concerns that we’re going to have is on Radish and Hickory … and their interest in having a police officer on peak times.”

Peak times are anticipated between hours of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for traffic control.
“That intersection will be overwhelmed with traffic,” said Chief Calloway. “I think at first they are going to try to do this with flaggers. If that doesn’t work, then ask for police. They hope that this project is done in 40 days.

“The hope is that they can have this highway blocked off for no longer than two weeks.”
“Some of the measures we have during the a.m. and p.m. peak when you have the large bulk of the traffic, we’re going to have officers positioned at the intersections of Handy and Radish Road,” said Mr. Pierce. “There is no easy solution. The contractor will utilize them (Millsboro police) when needed. Right now, we’re looking at a.m. and p.m. peak, but if it’s all day long we’ll have them there all day long, through the night, whatever we need to get it done.”

“They only have 40 days to finish the whole contract. The contractor is allocating a lot of resources to this,” said Mr. Pierce.
The detour route for large trucks is 11.4 miles – Rt. 24 (Laurel Road), to SR 30 and SR 26 leading back to US 113 in Dagsboro.

Contractor work during full closure of southbound US 113 is slated to be 24/7, seven days a week.

To accommodate DelDOT’s plan, Millsboro council at its Oct. 7 meeting waived town code restriction limiting such work to between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to allow for round-the-clock work.

DelDOT has attempted to alert the public to minimize negative impact.
“We passed out close to 1,000 brochures and pamphlets, all the businesses along 113 southbound and a portion of northbound 113 just to make them aware of everything, and also about 10 or 20 houses,” said John Karam, DelDOT project engineer.

“So, we’re hoping that we’re not catching anyone by surprise here and they knew this was coming,” said Mr. Pierce.
Mr. Karam said there has been “positive feedback” from residents and businesses, emphasizing DelDOT’s effort to have this necessary rehab project completed in the shortest time period possible through an Accelerated Bridge Construction contract.

The ABC option was chosen in lieu of traditional construction, which would have eight-plus months of construction, lane closures and shifts, immense traffic control expense and more prolonged impact on businesses and motorists.
TRADITION: “If we would have went the traditional route …. We would have been looking at eight months of work to get this done/. So that’s eight months that these businesses being impacted with really restricting or limiting their access. Plus, eight months of headaches for everyone driving through here.”

“We figured, there is a big impact,” said Mr. Pierce. “We’ll get it done in two weeks.”

The core of the bridge is an original two-lane structure that was constructed in 1916 to carry the then new T. Coleman du Pont Highway over the Iron Branch.

The original structure was modified twice over the next few years. Minor improvements were made in the 1960s when DuPont Boulevard was expanded to a four-lane roadway.

“They built the other span (northbound) in 1965 and it doesn’t need to be replaced,” said Mr. Pierce.
“So last 50 years with no problem,” Mr. Karam said. “We have the same construction with this one, precast, and it should last 50, 75 years.”

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