NEW CASTLE — The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Commissioners adopted the agency’s 2017 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) along with an Authority-wide Five Year Strategic Plan for the agency’s airports and crossing facilities in late December.
The 2017 CIP of $122 million is comprised of $99 million in Authority resources and $23 million in federal funds.
According to William E. Lowe, III, chairman of the DRBA, these capital investments are essential to properly maintain and improve the agency’s crossing facilities. “The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a vital link in the I-95 north-south corridor while the Cape May – Lewes Ferry is integral to the local tourism economy of the Cape May and Sussex Counties,” Lowe said. “We take our fiduciary responsibility to maintain these important infrastructure assets very seriously. The 2017 CIP and five year strategic plan to make certain that the public continues to enjoy safe, efficient, and sound transportation services under the agency’s management.”
“Millions of people rely on our transportation facilities – whether moving goods and services, traveling for a family vacation or commuting to work every day,” added DRBA Vice Chairman James N. Hogan. “As public stewards of some important regional transportation assets, the Authority will continue to make necessary and prudent investments in our family of transportation services that will benefit our customers. This CIP is an investment in our future.”
The DRBA Five Year Strategic Plan, which contains more than one hundred infrastructure projects at the Delaware Memorial Bridge (DMB), Cape May – Lewes Ferry (CMLF), and the agency’s five regional aviation facilities, is expected to cost approximately $460 million and includes the following major projects:
Cable Preservation (Both Structures) ‐ DMB: Preventive measures are necessary to maintain the service life and capacity of the Delaware Memorial Bridge structures. This state-of-the-art dehumidification system will extend the life span of main suspension cables that support the bridge deck of the Delaware Memorial Bridges. This project, which will total more than $34 million when completed, began in 2016 and has an estimated DRBA cost of $15 million in 2017 and $1.75 million in future years.
I 295 Southbound Reconstruction ‐ DMB: This is the final phase of safety improvements along I‐295 in New Jersey and Delaware which began in 1999. This project includes removal of five existing bridges, replacement of one existing bridge, and elimination of the weaving patterns for increased traffic capacity and safety. This project, which began in 2016 and is expected to cost nearly $34 million, is partially funded in the amount of approximately $7.0 million by the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Toll Plaza Improvements/Electronic Toll Collection–DMB: The project includes replacement of system hardware and software with a new advanced ETC system that will safeguard against having unplanned interruptions and provide for more reliable toll collection. Construction on the new toll system started in 2016 and is expected to total $5.9 million in 2017.
Ship Collision Protection ‐ DMB: This is a project to develop and implement a ship collision protection system for the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The project will include risk assessment, investigation of modern ship collision protection systems, environmental impacts, design details and construction of the system. This project has an estimated DRBA cost of $1.2 million in 2017 and $42 million in future years.
Suspender Rope Replacements ‐ DMB: Several suspender ropes and their connection brackets were found to show corrosion in the last annual inspection. Sixty-four ropes were replaced in 2016. Based on the assessment and current condition, an additional 60 ropes and brackets will be replaced in 2017. It is expected that 272 suspension ropes and brackets will be replaced at an estimated cost of $15 million over the next five years.
Cape May Vessel Fueling System Replacement ‐ CMLF: The current underground vessel fueling system was installed more than 20 years ago and has reached the end of its useful life. A new above ground system will be designed and constructed to permit full access for maintenance along the line. This projected cost for the new system is $2.5 million.
Main Vessel Repowering ‐ CMLF: This project involves the replacement of the engines and reduction gears on three vessels. The MV Delaware was repowered in 2016. Engines and reduction gears will be installed on the MV Cape Henlopen and MV New Jersey in 2018 and 2020. This project has an estimated DRBA cost of $7 million in future years and is partially funded in the amount of approximately $6 million by the Federal Transit Administration.
Sandman Blvd. Rehabilitation – Phase II ‐ CMLF: Roadway improvements are necessary for maintaining expected levels of service for the approach roads to the Cape May Terminal. This project proposes roadway configurations at the entrances to the terminal facilities. Phase II of this project includes improvements to the approach roads, as well as replacement of Cape May highway signage, which has reached the end of its useful life. Phase III of this project includes design and rehabilitation work on the terminal entrance, parking lot, and staging lanes. This project has an estimated DRBA cost of $7.05 million in future years.