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The Delaware Memorial Bridge is set to receive a new safety measure

Delaware River and Bay Authority

The Delaware River and Bay Authority is going ahead with plans to build a new Ship Collision Protection System for the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

The new system will protect the tower structure of the bridge in the event that a ship loses control and causes a collision.

Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon says the Delaware Memorial Bridge is an important link between Delaware and New Jersey, and protecting it has proven to be necessary.

“Some may ask, ‘Why are you doing this? Has a tanker ever hit the bridge?’ and in fact it has. Back in the late 60s the Regent Liverpool struck one of the towers, causing about $7 million damage in today’s dollars,” he said.

He adds if the bridge was built today, a system like this would be a requirement, not an option.

The current protection system was designed with smaller, slower ships in mind- not the large, fast tankers that utilize the Delaware River today.

The project will consist of the installation of 8 solid-fill dolphin cells, each measuring 80 feet in diameter.

“The traveling public will be unaffected by this project. The project is taking place on the Delaware River itself. On-site construction work is expected to begin in July, due to fishery restriction prohibiting pile-driving in the river,” explained Salmon.

Salmon adds if any entities are affected, it would be shipping traffic on the river, though DRBA does not anticipate that to be an issue.

The nearly $93 million project is partially funded by the US Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant, which is providing $22.25 million.

The Ship Collision Protection System on the Delaware Memorial Bridge should be completed by September of 2025.

Quinn Kirkpatrick was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and a graduated of the University of Delaware. She joined Delaware Public Media in June 2021