By Jim Melwert and Jan Carabeo
WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – Federal funds are on the way to help with repairs of I-495 in Wilmington, which has been shut down since pillars supporting a bridge were found to be tilting.
Delaware US Senator Chris Coons touring the site around the I-495 bridge, says $2-million in initial emergency federal funds have been made available.
“To deal with traffic control and the beginning stages of the engineering work. Much more will likely be needed in federal resources.”
Senator Coons joined by Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt says they’re still working to get a massive dirt pile out of the way as they work to determine the exact cause.
“What we know is that dirt pile is exerting a downward force, so we want to remove that dirt as quickly as possible, but remember, you can’t just pick it up and go dump it somewhere. You have to find a place. So, we’ve been doing that, we’ve been working around the clock.”
“We need to fully understand the ground movement before we can get all of the possible solutions worked out,” Bhatt said.
Tri-state area beach-goers headed to Delaware and Maryland hot spots are bracing for big delays Friday and throughout the weekend. This is the first week they will have to navigate the I-495 bridge closure in Wilmington.
“I can’t imagine all summer long, trying to do this every day,” Paul Kennard said of his work-week commute.
This week’s commute around the now twisted and tilting bridge has been trying to say the least.
“It’s been taking me an hour and a half,” Amanda Perrone said. It usually only takes her 30 minutes to get to work.
Those heading south to Delaware and Maryland will have to plan ahead and pack their patience.
“We’re running to the windows, keeping an eye on 95, we can see it from our building, so we’re monitoring the situation closely, seeing if we need to get out ahead of time,” Christine Mantegna said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests checking DelDOT’s (deldot.org) live traffic cameras before heading out the door and planning an alternate route.
“I think if you’re looking at Route 13 to run south or north to get to the Delaware beaches or maybe to the Jersey Shore that’s fine,” Jim Lardear of AAA Mid-Atlantic said. “You could go east through New Jersey and cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge. If you’re west of here, you could take possibly 202 to Route 41 down to Route 13.”
Bhatt says hopefully by early next week they’ll be able to update the next steps. He says they have 12 more hours of data that show there’s been no more tilting, but as for a timeline on re-opening I-495, it’s weeks or months.
In the meantime, engineers are still in the middle of inspecting similar bridges. CBS 3 is told those inspections are now complete in New Castle County.