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Lewes swing bridge removal postponed indefinitely, cost may go up

The 105-year-old swing bridge was scheduled to be moved to its memorial site about 4,000 feet from its location, but hit a snag. (Photo: Jonathan Mistrot)

A popular swing bridge in Lewes is causing some unexpected headaches during a planned removal this past weekend – and the price tag for its removal could go up because of it.

DelDOT was scheduled to remove the swing bridge and place it at a memorial site along the bike trail several hundred feet from where it’s at right now, but it hit a snag.

“The crane just couldn’t lift it,” says Dr. Gary Wray, who is on the board for Lewes Junction Railroad & Bridge Association. “The reality is that the bridge has been here since 1916. DelDOT and Pearson, the construction company, had problems with some pieces of metal that were hung up, rusty and so on. By the time they got it finished rigging and started to lift it was late at night and it wouldn’t come up.”

Pearson is the same company who won a public bid for the Broadkill River bridge project just outside of Lewes.

For now, the project has been postponed indefinitely until DelDOT can come up with a new plan.

So what happened?

Dr. Wray tells TV Delmarva News that the internals of the swing bridge, like the ones seen here, made the bridge heavier than calculated.

The cost of the project: $2.2 million of your dollars, and that price tag could go up. So with all the headaches the bridge is causing and the price tag, why save it as opposed to demolishing. For starters, Dr. Wray says it would have cost more to demolish – but saving a piece of Lewes history is worth it.

“The only two things a community has in common is its culture and its history, and we are in the history preservation game,” Dr. Wray says. “This little bridge behind me has served this town loyally and faithfully for 105 years and never asked for anything. So when we approached city council with exactly that comment, that the bridge is asking to be saved, interestingly enough we found a very receptive Lewes town council.”

Ultimately, the town and DelDOT agreed – something Dr. Wray doesn’t deal with all the time.

“Usually you have to fight battles. This wasn’t a battle,” Dr. Wray says.

We spoke to DelDOT who tells us that one way or another, the bridge will be removed and placed in its final resting place. It will just require more planning than anticipated.

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