Biz Pic: Cable preservation for Delaware Memorial Bridge

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Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) officials have announced the award of a contract to preserve and protect its principal asset, the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

Under the new contract, the DRBA will install a dehumidification system for the main suspension cables on both structures of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  The work is expected to continue for nearly two years.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a major transportation link in the north-south corridor between Washington, D.C., and New York City that handles more than 34 million vehicles annually.  The Delaware Memorial Bridges’ main suspension cables are original to each bridge. The New Jersey bound span opened in 1951 while the Delaware-bound one was completed in 1968.

According to Shoukry Elnahal, chief engineer for the DRBA, the new dehumidification system is part of the Authority’s comprehensive capital program designed to preserve and protect the bi-state agency’s transportation infrastructure. “This state-of-the-art system will extend the life span of our main suspension cables that support the bridge deck of the Delaware Memorial Bridges,” Elnahal said.  “The project involves the fitting of air tight wraps around the main cables, positioning injection and exhaust ports, and installing advanced dehumidification plants inside the anchorages of the two bridges.”

Elnahal also noted that the system will be equipped with remote sensors and advanced monitoring systems to insure it is functioning as intended. “The new dehumidification system is designed to operate as efficiently as possible while keeping the Authority’s long term maintenance requirements to a minimum,” he added.

During the execution of this contract, multiple lanes on the northbound and the southbound bridges will be closed periodically. While DRBA engineers have designed the project to minimize traffic delays to the extent possible, motorists should expect to experience them from time-to-time.

Approximately 25 suspension bridges in the world are equipped with a cable dehumidification system.  In 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan was the first to be equipped with such a system.  The Maryland Transportation Authority began installing the first cable dehumidification system in the United States for the William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge in 2012. That system was completed last year.  The Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span will be the second such application in the United States.

American Bridge Company of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania will handle the construction and installation work at a cost of $33.6 million. Formed in 1900, American Bridge Company is a leading provider of bridge construction services worldwide.

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