DelDOT: 'Hairline' cracks in new bridge not considered harmful

After receiving multiple inquiries in recent weeks regarding reported work stoppages, false-work settlement and concrete cracking at the new Indian River Bridge, Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Carolann Wicks released a statement this week addressing those concerns.

Wicks said the cause of the “very fine cracking” in two deck sections – 82 feet long and 106 feet wide, respectively – is “still actively being evaluated and discussed in order to prevent any re-occurrence.”

DelDOT officials reported that the crack widths vary but are “extremely narrow,” with the widest measured crack being .006 inches wide. Repairs for the cracking will include injecting and filling the cracks with epoxy materials and coating the exposed surfaces with a crack-sealing material. Officials said the design already includes steel reinforcement cast into the concrete deck and post-tensioning systems.

“These design measures are intended to protect and maintain the integrity of the structure in situations like this and have always been part of the design,” DelDOT said of the reinforcement and tensioning systems.

DelDOT officials said they believe a combination of several different factors contributed to the cracking issue and stated, “At this time, the design-build team, their quality-control staff, DelDOT and FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) are satisfied that the cracking does not affect the structural integrity or stability of the bridge deck.”

They also stated they were continuing to review the situation and that additional action will be taken if necessary.

Wicks said work had resumed and any cost and delay impacts associated with intermittent work stoppages between July and August would be addressed by the design-build team and DelDOT, in accordance with their existing contract. She added that it was premature to speculate what impacts, if any, the issue would have on the overall schedule and budget of the project.

An update on bridge progress released Aug. 28 by DelDOT states that the bridge project is “on budget and is expected to stay on budget.” It also states that the project is currently about four to six months behind its original scheduled opening to traffic, which was expected to be in April of 2011. The new expected completion date is the fall of 2011.

DelDOT is continuing to perform underwater and top-side inspections of the existing Indian River Inlet bridge, which has been undermined by scouring from the inlet itself. The next inspection is scheduled for November 2010. “The bridge and bridge piers continue to be stable and the existing bridge is safe,” officials emphasized.

For more information on the project, visit or view the Indian River Bridge Q&A at