Delaware Memorial Bridge
The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a set of twin suspension bridges crossing the Delaware River. The toll bridges carry Interstate 295 and U.S. Route 40 between Delaware and New Jersey. The bridge was designed by the firm known today as HNTB with consulting help from famous engineer Othmar Ammann, whose other designs include the Walt Whitman Bridge (which is similar in appearance, except for the additional travel lanes and shorter center span) and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It is also one of only two crossings of the Delaware River with both U.S. highway and Interstate highway designations, the other being the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The bridges provide an important regional connection for long-distance travelers. While not a part of Interstate 95, they connect two parts of the highway: the Delaware Turnpike ( Interstate 95 in Delaware) on the south side with the New Jersey Turnpike (later Interstate 95 in New Jersey) on the north side. They also connect Interstate 495, U.S. Route 13, and Route 9 in New Castle, Delaware with U.S. Route 130 in Pennsville Township, New Jersey (at the settlement of Deepwater, New Jersey). The bridges are dedicated to those from both New Jersey and Delaware who died in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. On the Delaware side of the bridge is a War Memorial, visible from the northbound side lanes. The toll facility is operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

History

The first span
Following the opening of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, residents of Delaware and New Jersey began to advocate a river crossing in the Wilmington area. As pressure mounted, a ferry service was initiated in 1926 as an interim measure, near the bridge's current location. Advocates of a Delaware-New Jersey crossing faced strong opposition from Philadelphia port authorities, who claimed the bridge would be a menace to navigation. The United States Navy also was concerned that the bridge would be vulnerable to attack and could render the Philadelphia Navy Yard useless if destroyed by an enemy. As vehicular traffic rapidly increased, the benefits of the bridge became evident and construction was authorized by the highway departments of Delaware and New Jersey in 1945. Originally, a two-lane tunnel was considered, but the costs for a four-lane bridge were found to be equivalent; thus the bridge was the choice. The United States Congress approved the project on July 13, 1946, and construction began on February 1, 1949. The project cost $44 million and required two years to complete the 175 feet (53 m) high span with towers reaching 440 feet (134 m) above water level. The first span opened to traffic on August 16, 1951, and at the time was the sixth-longest main suspension span in the world. The governors of Delaware, Elbert N. Carvel and New Jersey, Alfred E. Driscoll dedicated the bridge to each state's war dead of World War II. The bridge quickly proved a popular travel route as the New Jersey Turnpike connection was completed at the north end. By 1955, nearly 8 million vehicles were crossing the bridge each year, almost double the original projection. By 1960, the bridge was attracting more than 15 million cars per year, increasing even more when linked with the newly constructed Delaware Turnpike in November, 1963.

The second span
Construction of the second span began in mid-1964, 250 feet (76 m) north of the original span. At a cost of $77 million, the second span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge opened on September 12, 1968, and was dedicated to the those soldiers from Delaware and New Jersey killed in the Korean War and Vietnam War. The original span was closed down for fifteen months for refurbishment " the suspenders were replaced, the deck and median barrier were removed and replaced with a single deck to allow four lanes of traffic. Finally, on December 29, 1969, all eight lanes of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span opened to traffic, making it the world's longest twin suspension bridge. While similar in basic appearance, major differences can be seen between the original and second spans. The original span was constructed entirely of riveted steel plates, and has an open-grate shoulder access walk while the second span was constructed mostly of welded steel plates (with riveted joints in crucial areas) and has concrete access walks. The original span carries New Jersey-bound traffic, while the newer span carries the Delaware-bound traffic. Cross-over lanes on each side of the bridge can allow for two-way traffic on one span if the other has to be closed for extensive periods.

From 1969 to today
The bridge had a close call with disaster when on July 9, 1969, the oil tanker Regent Liverpool struck the fender system protecting the tower piers. The bridge itself was spared damage, but the fender suffered approximately $1 million in damage. The Delaware River and Bay Authority began a $13 million project in 2003 to resurface the bridge, refurbish the expansion joints, upgrade the electrical system, and replace the elevators in the four towers. The work was completed in 2008. Today, more than 50,000 vehicles cross the twin spans on their combined total of eight lanes daily. On clear days, Philadelphia's skyline is visible in the distance on the left going to New Jersey and on the right leaving New Jersey. Wilmington, Delaware, only a few miles away from the bridge, is also visible. Other landmarks that can be seen from the bridge includes the cooling tower for PSEG's Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station near Salem, New Jersey, the Valero oil refinery in Delaware City, Delaware, the Reedy Point Bridge, also in Delaware City, both the St. Georges and the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridges in St. Georges, Delaware, and the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester, Pennsylvania. The largest single day of bridge traffic saw 72,249 private and commercial vehicles cross the bridge one-way on November 29, 1998. The largest single weekend for traffic totals saw 194,199 vehicles cross the bridge one-way, July 24”“26, 1998.

Toll
  • $3 for passenger vehicles exiting New Jersey into Delaware. Toll plaza located on Delaware side before Delaware Route 9 (New Castle Ave.) exit.
  • No toll for traffic exiting Delaware into New Jersey, as one-way tolls were instituted in 1992.
  • E-ZPass compatible.
  • Frequent Traveler discounts available
  • About $270,000 in tolls are collected daily
  • Current tolls for all vehicle types
Prior to the introduction of E-ZPass, both tokens and frequent traveller tickets were used, with special, discounted ticket books for local residents. They were phased out upon the introduction of the new system, and the tokens are no longer valid.

War Memorial
Since opening in 1951, annual ceremonies are held at the bridge's War Memorial on Memorial Day and Veterans Day to honor the sacrifices of American war veterans. The memorial is located in New Castle, Delaware and features a reflecting pool, a statue of a soldier, and a wall containing the names of 15,000 men and women from Delaware and New Jersey killed in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.

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