I-495 Over Christina River Closed Due To Bridge Problem

I-495 Over Christina River Closed Due To Bridge Problem

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DOVER, Del. -

Delaware officials ordered the closure of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River in Wilmington after discovering that four support columns are tilting.

"I went to go over there but everything was closed," said one woman.

Drivers who use I-495 were brought to a halt Monday evening when they came up on flashing lights, crews with cones and road closure signs.

"Earlier we went past and we couldn't go through it," said Dilsie Suarez.

That's because the Delaware Department of Transportation called for an emergency shutdown of 495 over the Christina River between the 12th Street and Terminal exits. They say an engineer, not with DelDOT, was looking at another bridge Friday when he noticed something wasn't right.

"There's several inches of separation so the traveling public wouldn't notice but a trained observer would and that should not be the case," said Shailin Bhatt, Secretary of Transportation for DelDOT.

He says there are 37 columns that hold up the bridge and four are out of alignment by several degrees.

"Instead of being leveled completely, one side is above the other, so that indicates there's tilting of the bridge," said Bhatt.

A DelDOT equipment operator also reported the problem Monday. Engineers and consultants have put up tilt sensors to determine the severity of the problem. They hope to know something Tuesday afternoon.

"If it's continuing to move then it's a much different problem set. If the bridge has stopped then that will give us a better indication there was a problem and now it's resolved and we're just dealing with a structural issue," said Bhatt.

In the meantime, drivers are concerned.

"495 is a major road. Truckers take it. I drove a truck for years and I took it every day," said Bill Rineir.

Nicole Nichols also heard about it and said, "I think it needs to be fixed. It's a safety hazard and if it's slipping it's the right thing to do to close it to repair it." 

Bridges are inspected every two years. DelDOT says this one was last inspected October of 2012. It was due for inspection again this Fall.

The bridge was built in 1971.

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