Inlet bridge moving forward

Stop us if you’ve heard this before.

State officials made a formal announcement this week regarding the timetable for work on the new Indian River Inlet Bridge. The $150 million project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2011.

We know. We’ve all been through the ups and downs of this alleged project for years, and there’s no doubt that cynicism over the news is bound to be plentiful. However, there is reason for optimism this time around, and we’re pretty confident in saying that this time feels like the real deal.

Design-build contractors Skanska USA Civil Southeast Inc. have been driving “test piles” in recent weeks to collect data on the potential carrying capacity for the bridge piers. Those piers will eventually take the full weight of the 2,600-foot-long bridge across the Indian River Inlet — 900 feet of which will hover over the Inlet itself.

According to Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) project manager Doug Robb, those tests have gone well, and that everything appears to be good to go for the project.

DelDOT has taken a lot of heat locally for the failures of the new bridge being completed — or, actually, even getting a good start. And some of that criticism is indeed justified. However, from the countless stories we’ve written on the subject, and the hours of phone conversations between our staff members and DelDOT officials, we can honestly tell our readers that they have not quit trying to get this done. It just hasn’t, for any number of reasons.

We’re excited that plans appear to be moving forward this time around, and look forward to seeing the final product. The design is akin to the Williams V. Roth Jr. Bridge over the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, near Wilmington — and that is a beautiful bridge.

The trip over the Inlet is a beautiful one, no doubt. Now, hopefully, it will be a safe trip over a beautiful bridge.