Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Lift Bridge

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Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Lift Bridge

The Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Lift Bridge carries Norfolk Southern rail lines across the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a canal expansion project and opened in 1966, the Canal Lift Bridge, the only drawbridge on the C & D Canal (other lift bridges, carrying vehicular traffic, had since been replaced with high-level crossings) was owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central, and Conrail before Norfolk Southern acquired ownership of it in 1998. The bridge is used primarily by NS on its Delmarva Branch (which connects the Eastern Shore of both Maryland and Virginia with the Shellpot Branch (a former electrified thru-freight line) and the Port of Wilmington. It is also used by Amtrak for special NASCAR and Delaware State Fair events held throughout the year, with the trains departing from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and using Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to the Bell Junction near Edgemoor, then departing a short distance later on the Shellpot Branch and later the Delmarva Branch.

The bridge carries a single track across the canal and is kept open to allow the free flow of shipping traffic underneath. If a freight train plans on crossing the canal in either direction, the engineer must contact the bridge operator at least 30 minutes before crossing, as to allow the bridge to be lowered. Most canal crossings occur at night when most of the shipping traffic (along with train traffic) is at a minimum. The northern approach to the Canal Lift Bridge bisects an abandoned section of the C & D Canal, which was bypassed in the 1960s with the current sea-level channel. The western section currently is home to a marina while the eastern section is an overflow lake and is one of few ponds in Delaware stocked with hybrid striped bass (a striped bass interbred with a white bass). Lums Pond State Park, a recreational park whose namesake lake was used to provide water for the old Summit Bridge canal locks, is north and west of the Lift Bridge.