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Lewes Swing Bridge moves this week

Lewes Swing Bridge
Randy Voith
Lewes Swing Bridge

The Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge leaves Lewes-Rehoboth Canal this week.

The move comes after more than a year of planning.

The bridge - one of the last remaining swing bridges in the country - has been in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal since 1916.

But failing supports made the bridge unsafe, prompting the Lewes Junction Railroad and Bridge Association to preserve it by moving it.

And the group’s president Randy Voith says that move happens this Wednesday, Dec. 1.

“On Wednesday at 1 o’clock, DelDOT (which owns the Bridge) and their contractor are going to be lifting the bridge out of the Lewes-(Rehoboth) Canal," Voith said. "They will be lifting it out  of the Canal and placing it onto a flatbed trailer. And that trailer will then move at about 5 miles an hour on a circuitous route around to go to its final display area.”

Voith says the Swing Bridge will sit in a storage area until Friday morning.

That’s when the contractor will place the bridge at its final display area, American Legion Road where it intersects the rail-trail bike path.

The entire process will cost about $2 million and will be recorded by a DelDOT drone due to the bridge’s historical significance.

That site will eventually feature interpretive areas detailing the historical significance of the railroad to the City of Lewes and throughout Eastern Sussex County.

Lewes Swing Bridge Rendering of new location
Lewes Swing Bridge Rendering of new location

Voith is happy their efforts to save this piece of history are paying off.

“We had two major goals," said Voith. "One was to preserve the bridge, find a resting spot for it and be able to display it to the public for the long term. And secondly, to be able to put up a railroad display between the Library and the (Margaret H.) Rollins (Child Development) Center, which we’re also working on. This specific step is a major step for us - we’re a young organization.”

A viewing area and parking will be available just north of the bridge along Gills Neck Road for people interested in watching the move Wednesday. That starts around 1 p.m. and some road closures are expected. Friday’s placement begins at 7 a.m.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.