Asbestos delays reopening of major Delaware artery

Drivers diverted around the Rt. 141/Basin Rd. bridge over Rt. 13 will have to deal with detours for longer than expected after technical issues delayed the work.

The bridge was closed in early October as part of a $15.5 million project to rehab the 62 year old overpass. DelDOT said the bridge was plagued with “deck punch-throughs” over the past several years that required repeated patching efforts. The road was closed every time workers had to patch holes in the bridge.

While the original plans called for the bridge to be closed through mid-December, problems with the construction have delayed the reopening until sometime next year.

While doing the initial demolition, workers discovered asbestos conduit pipe inside the north and southbound sidewalks that hadn’t been identified while planning the project’s timeline. As a result, the contractor had to pause the demolition work to safely remove about 1,200 feet of pipe. That delay, along with some other technical issues forced the reopening of the bridge to be pushed back into the new year.

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“Work on the bridge continues to uncover unforeseen issues that our design consultant, McCormick Taylor, and contractor, Mumford and Miller are addressing,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan in a statement. “These issues must be resolved before the decking can be placed and the roadway reopened.”

Asbestos was widely used through much of the mid-1900s in a number of different manufacturing applications because of its indestructible nature. According to the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center, while some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, “they are all labeled carcinogenic today. No amount of exposure to any kind of asbestos is considered safe and can lead to mesothelioma or other diseases.” The MAA Center says asbestos is the leading cause of occupational cancer in the U.S.

In addition to rehabbing the roadway surface, the bridge is also being lifted to increase the vertical clearance under the structure. That’s designed to significantly reduce truck hits on the underside of the bridge.

As far as when the bridge will reopen, DelDOT expects the construction to continue in January, and will provide more updates on a timeline as the project moves forward.

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