A project to paint the Delaware Memorial Bridge got really bad last weekend. Seven miles bad.
The traffic backed up from the project site on the northbound side, Interstate 295 and then down Interstate 95 northbound to around the Route 1 interchange.
That’s why the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which owns and operates the bridge, is warning drivers about potential delays for four more weekends.
It’s also offering some relief on the July Fourth weekend.
The work began last spring, weekdays and weekends, and is planned to go through October.
One northbound lane is closed so a contractor can remove old paint coatings and apply new primer and paint to the side spans of the bridge heading into New Jersey.
With pandemic restrictions loosening – and families primed for vax-cations – traffic has soared. In nine days so far in June, traffic topped figures from 2019, according to James E. Salmon, public information officer for the authority. And June 2019 was a record month.
The bridge’s weekday average is 40,000, with 55,000 on weekends.
The authority has scheduled weekend work for June 25-27, July 9-11, July 16-18 and July 23-25. It is expecting the heaviest traffic to be from noon to 6 p.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
It is sparing the July Fourth weekend from construction constrictions. From 9 a.m. Friday, July 2, through 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, all work associated with the painting project will be suspended, the authority said, and all lanes will be open.
In August, the work will be weekdays only, Salmon said.
Motorists may follow the bridge on Twitter @demembridge for the latest in traffic information.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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