October picked for Iron Branch Bridge work, two-week lane closure anticipated

MILLSBORO — October is Delaware Department of Transportation’s choice for the two-week closure of southbound lanes of US 113 in Millsboro for restoration/rehabilitation of the Iron Branch Bridge, a portion of which is more than a century old.

DelDOT representatives updated Millsboro council and town leaders at council’s July 1 meeting on the accelerated bridge project.
Mumford & Miller, a Middletown-based construction firm that deals in bridge work, is the contractor for the approximate $1.2 million project.

Work will consist of removing concrete encased beams originally constructed in 1916 and replacing them with a new three-sided concrete precast frame as well as aging supports in a 1946 expansion.

A newer portion installed in 1965 when the highway was expanded to four-lanes is in good shape, has conditionally stood the test of time and will not be removed, according to DelDOT’s bridge section.

“But all of the 1915 portion and all of the 1946 portion will be removed,” said Jonathan Karam, project manager for DelDOT.
Traffic will be diverted from that immediate area via two detour routes. Northbound traffic on US 113 (DuPont Boulevard) will not be affected during DelDOT’s accelerated bridge construction project.

The detour for non-truck traffic encompasses Radish Road from southbound US 113 to Handy Road back to US 113. It measures about 1.9 miles with an estimated four-minute time, possibly longer during heavy traffic periods common in the Millsboro area.

The detour for trucks – 18-wheelers and semis – is about 11 miles, utilizing SR 24 to SR 30 to SR 26, which intersects US 113 in Dagsboro.

“With this accelerated method it’s only going to be a two-week closure of the southbound lanes,” said Mr. Karam. “Northbound lanes will not be impacted. There will not be any temporary paving other than the milling overlay on Radish Road. All access to businesses and residences will be maintained.”

DelDOT chose the ABC route over a traditional contract that would have required extensive temporary paving, traffic disruption and residential and commercial inconvenience. Complete lane closures in the accelerated option create enclosed workspace and greater worker safety.

“We’re trying to pick the lesser of two evils,” said project engineer Nicholas Dean of DelDOT. “We do realize that this will be an inconvenience to you.”
Milling and overlay work on Radish Road, which is part of the detour, will be done in September. Actual bridge work hinges on extended forecasts.

“That date is a little flexible. It’s mainly dependent on the weather. So, if we get a good forecast for a week or two, then we’ll go ahead with closure. Hopefully, it will avoid any weather delays.

“But there are a couple days built into the contract for that. The contractor will work 24/7 to minimize the duration of the closure,” said Mr. Karam, noting the contract includes incentives and disincentives. “There are disincentives as well.

“So, if they do not get it done within our time period they will start to get docked.”

“If we get a good 14 days in the forecast, we’re going to go,” said Mr. Dean. “If it’s early October and the weather doesn’t look so good … we have to play it based on weather.”

DelDOT had planned the rehabilitation of bridge over the Iron Branch for March 2019 but that had to be pushed back to the fall due to National Marine Fisheries Service restrictions governing in-stream work along the Atlantic Coast during fish migration.

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