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Work on the Delaware Memorial Bridge collision protection system is going smoothly

In the wake of this morning’s bridge collapse in Baltimore caused by a collision with a container ship, the Delaware River and Bay Authority provides an update on the new Delaware Memorial Bridge collision system it’s installing.

Work for the new $95 million bridge collision protection system began in July.

It will replace the current bridge tower protection systems that are original to each span - one built in the 1950s, and the other in the 60s.

They were built with smaller, slower ships in mind- not the large, fast tankers that utilize the Delaware River today.

“The current system that’s under construction on the Delaware Memorial Bridge is something that would have had to be a part of the plan if this bridge were to be built new. So it’s something that we’re doing proactively to enhance the protection of our tower structures from any strike that would happen in the event that a ship loses its control and steering,” explained Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesperson Jim Salmon.

The new set-up involves building eight stone filled dolphin cylinders, each measuring 80 feet in diameter, with four cells installed at the piers supporting both the eastern and western towers.

2 cylinders are now complete.

Salmon says from now until the end of June the crew can’t drive piles due to sturgeon reproduction season.

“We continue to work on the other aspects of the protection system to make sure that when we can begin to start driving piles again that the process moves quickly along,” said Salmon. “Obviously it's all hands on deck with a project like this. We want to get it done as quickly as possible and as safely as possible, but we have to make sure it’s done right.”

Construction is still expected to be complete by September 2025.

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