Delaware Memorial Bridge toll increase proposed to fund $300 million facelift

Workers wrapped the main cables of the Delaware Memorial Bridge before installing a dehumidification system to prevent corrosion. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Workers wrapped the main cables of the Delaware Memorial Bridge before installing a dehumidification system to prevent corrosion. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

The Delaware River and Bay Authority is proposing a toll increase at the Delaware Memorial Bridge beginning in March — the first hike in eight years.

As plans proceed for a $300 million bridge overhaul over the next five years, the authority does not have the necessary resources to fund those projects. About 70 percent of the $440 million capital budget will be directed to the repairs.

In a few weeks, the authority’s board will vote on the proposed increase from $4 to $5 for a standard passenger car, and from $5 to $7 per axle for commercial vehicles.

A number of improvements are needed on the original 67-year-old bridge and the second span that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The ship-collision protection system, original to the bridge, requires an update to meet the needs of today’s faster and larger tankers.

The large suspension ropes hanging from the main bridge cable and supporting the main deck also must be replaced. Also planned are steelwork repairs and a painting, removal and recoating project.

“In order to maintain public safety and uninterrupted traffic flow, it’s necessary these projects be undertaken in a timely fashion,” said authority spokesman Jim Salmon.

The public is invited to forums on the toll increase in Delaware Wednesday and New Jersey Thursday.

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