Delaware leaders break ground on ‘game changing’ riverfront bridge [video]

A new bridge could bring even more development and visitors to Wilmington’s thriving Riverfront.

State and city leaders took shovels to dirt for the ceremonial groundbreaking on bridge connecting the Wilmington Riverfront to Route 13. The 470-foot bridge would include two travel lanes for cars, as well as a 14-foot wide bike and pedestrian path. The bridge will be built across the Christina River between what used to be the Shipyard Shops outlet mall and the Peterson Wildlife Refuge.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, who oversaw the development of the riverfront before becoming mayor last November, says the bridge will do more than just make it easier to get to and from destinations like the Blue Rocks baseball stadium.

“It joins both sides of the river together, and it opens up 60 or 80 acres across the way depending on how you count,” Purzycki said at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon. “We’ve got tremendous plans for the potential of that side of the river. It’s really going to be a game changer for us.”

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The Riverfront has exploded with development over the past 25 years, with multiple high-end apartment and condo buildings, new restaurants, an IMAX movie theater and a new hotel. A second riverfront hotel is scheduled to open late next year.

It’s the kind of development lots of people hoped for, but few believed in when the state was making plans to redevelop the area. Delaware Gov. John Carney was working as deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. Tom Carper at the time. “25 years ago, this was a wasteland,” Carney said. “This bridge is going to be the bridge to the future of the development of the riverfront. It’s the bridge to future economic development.”

The new bridge will cost $28 million and is expected to be completely open by spring 2020.

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