New Indian River Inlet Bridge close to reality


Transportation officials reported earlier this week that the new Indian River Inlet Bridge is on schedule to open to traffic in December. That’s December 2011. As in, the bridge should be opening up in a few short months.

We’ll pause here for a moment while you stifle your cynicism.

The project has been years in the making. There have been budget-related delays, bidding-related delays and simply delays because any major project comes stock with delays. But, as of this moment, the work appears to be moving along pretty smoothly and officials are confident that people will be enjoying their drive across a brand new bridge by the end of the year.

This really is good news. The older bridge that we continue to move across in high numbers is getting older and does not generate a lot of confidence for drivers. The speed limit reduction designed to create a safe working environment for those tasked with building the bridge is not observed as much as it should be, and has been met with some bitterness by drivers. And having traffic limited to one lane in each direction has been met with sheer panic amongst many in the area for concern over traffic shutdowns.

“Our studies show that there may be some delays but that they should be minimal,” said DelDOT officials in a statement.

Actually, that’s astounding. For years, traffic backed up on the bridge every time it rained in the summer, as vacationers headed for the outlets in Rehoboth or simply decided to head home as opposed to roughing it out through the weather. And that was with multiple lanes going each direction. Now that it’s being limited to one lane each way, that problem is going to stop?
Does DelDOT just take year-round figures for this area and assume we have constant traffic patterns throughout the year?

We will have traffic problems this summer because of the single lanes. We would have traffic problems this summer with multiple lanes. To suggest there won’t be is either naive on DelDOT’s part or disingenuous. But you know what?

We’ll get through it. We always do and we always will.

Though the part about the traffic is concerning for all of us, there is so much to be excited about with this project. We have seen numerous workers busily putting together the bridge at a time when many are out of work. The bridge appears to be aesthetically brilliant, and should only enhance the picturesque joy of driving over the inlet. And DelDOT has done a tremendous job of keeping people in the loop during this process — both by firing out press releases to the media on a regular basis and allowing the public to do site tours.

In fact, site tours are available on Wednesdays during the summer, if scheduled in advance, and there will be a few Friday site tours. For more information, visit www.irib.deldot.gov.