On Tuesday, February 15, the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Commissioners approved Resolution 11-04, which adopted a Five-Year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) of $184 million for the Authority’s Crossing facilities.  The board action took place at the bi-state agency’s monthly meeting held in James Julian Boardroom at the DRBA Administrative Complex in New Castle, Delaware.  The entire planning document can be viewed on the Authority’s website, www.drba.net.

According to Bill Lowe, 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 twin capes resort region,” Lowe said.  “We take our fiduciary responsibility to maintain these important infrastructure assets very seriously.  Millions of people rely on them – whether transporting goods and services, traveling for a family vacation or commuting to work every day.  The implementation of this 5-Year CIP will assure that our customers continue to enjoy quality transportation services safely and efficiently.”

Lowe also noted that due to insufficient cash or debt service capacity, the DRBA will not be able to undertake many of the capital improvement projects contained in the Capital Improvement Plan without a toll increase in 2011.   The 2011 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the Delaware Memorial Bridge (DMB) and Cape May – Lewes Ferry (CMLF) is nearly $41 million and includes the following major projects:

Miscellaneous Steelwork/Elevator Replacement/Security Improvements – DMB:  Miscellaneous steelwork repairs involves such items of work as replacement of worn bearing assemblies, access platforms, maintenance of steel connections, installing safety features, and other work as required.  The eight new exterior elevators (one per tower leg) are currently being installed.  Based upon a security vulnerability assessment, further security enhancements are also planned.  Approximately $10.7 million remains on this contract and the work is expected to be complete in 2012.

Phase IV- Delaware Approach Widening, Repaving & Modifications – I-295 Southbound – I-95 to Landers Lane: The age of our facilities combined with heavy truck traffic, drives these required recommended road and bridge improvements.  This work includes geometric improvements and greater lane capacities to meet future needs and provide for an acceptable level of service.  Interstate 295 is experiencing high traffic densities in the area of the Farnhurst Interchange.  Four lanes of traffic through our facilities decrease to two through-lanes in this area, creating an unsafe merge and weave pattern.  Phase IV includes rehabilitation of I-295 Southbound.  Bridges 4, 5, 7W and 8W will be eliminated during this phase.  Bridge 6 is scheduled for replacement.  During this phase, Ramp D (new Ramp I) will be relocated and Ramp E will be rehabilitated.  Estimated cost for Phase IV is $29.3 million with the project complete by 2015.   Design and engineering work will begin in 2011, with construction to begin in 2013.  At the conclusion of Phase IV, the multi-phased DE Approach Roads Improvement Project will be complete.

Steelwork Full Overcoat Rehabilitation system, 2nd Structure – DMB :  As part of the DMB rehabilitation program, a full overcoat system will be necessary for significant parts of the 2nd Structure.  The Authority has already committed $1.9 million via contract for 2011.  The comprehensive painting program is expected to cost $22.2 million during the next ten years.

Traffic Management System-DMB: Improvements are recommended to the current traffic management system including the replacement of eight (8) obsolete variable message signals (VMS) on existing overhead gantry’s as well as a system software upgrade.  The projected cost for the total project in 2011 is $2.34 million and $4.34 million over three years.

Toll Plaza Improvements/Electronic Toll Collection-DMB: Toll plaza and electronic toll collection (ETC) upgrades involve new equipment installation (i.e. variable radar speed signs), installation of a new intercom system, and other miscellaneous improvements.  In 2010, money is budgeted to conduct an ETC upgrade study as well as help prepare for the RFP process leading into the next generation of toll plaza/ETC upgrades.  In 2012, work will likely begin on the next generation of electronic toll collection, including possible lane re-configurations.  The projected cost for this work in 2011 is $300,000 and $10 million over five years.

1st Structure Improvement Program – DMB:  Based on the age, heavy truck traffic volume, and an engineering assessment, it is anticipated that deck and suspender rope replacement will be required between 2019 and 2021.  The age of the bridge and cable system on both spans warrants an in-depth inspection of each main cable and associated suspender ropes, which will help identify future repairs, if any.  The projected cost for the cable inspection project is $8.6 million and will be completed in 2012.   Within this program, lead paint abatement (100% replacement of painting system) and seismic upgrades of the 1st Structure shall also be considered.  The total cost of this program is estimated at $300 million. Investigations began in 2010 and design activities are anticipated to start in 2012.  The budgeted cost for this line in 2011 is $6.1 million and $17.7 million through 2013.

Rehabilitation of Approach Roads (Phase I)-Cape May:  Cape May Approach Roads are in need of rehabilitation.  The existing surface exhibits significant spalling and cracking.  This project includes the construction of an additional lane along a portion of the approach roads, reconstruction of the existing pavement, and upgrading safety features to meet present standards (i.e. guiderail, lighting, drainage, signage). Design is nearing completion and is currently under review by NJDOT.  This project is planned for 2011-2012 at a total projected cost of $7.7 million.

Dolphins/Miscellaneous Fendering Improvements/Lighthouse – CMLF: The integrity of the fendering units is important in protecting the vessels and providing for proper mooring facilities.  Slips 1 and 2 at both the Cape May and Lewes Terminals have had their original wooden fendering systems replaced with a composite fender system.  The rehabilitation program replaced various size timber clusters with a significantly upgraded energy absorption system which includes fiberglass fendering panels and rubber fendering elements.  In Cape May, the original wooden fendering systems in Slips 3, 4, 5, and 6 need work to keep them fully functional until full replacement is necessary. Monopiles 68 and 74 need to be replaced in 2011.  Wire rope wraps and a few timber piles will be replaced on Timber Cluster 80.  The remaining twenty (20) timber clusters are 25+ years old and in fair condition; however, these clusters will require replacement over the next ten years as they deteriorate.  The projected cost to complete this work in 2011 is $4.4 million and $8.4 million over five years.

Passenger Loader Walkways – CMLF:  The existing four (4) loaders located at both the Lewes and Cape May Terminals are 20 years old and in marginally fair condition.  The marine plywood flooring needs to be replaced every few years and maintenance on the walkways continues to increase every year.  The end that connects to the ferry is in fair to poor condition.  Following an assessment and analysis of alternatives, it is recommended that these walkways be replaced.  The projected cost for this project is $4.7 million over two years

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