Corps: Ches. City bridge work to finish mid-Nov.
Delay caused by weather
jowens@ cecilwhig. com
— Those who live, work and play below the C& D Canal will have to bear with construction for a just a little bit longer, but work on the Chesapeake City Bridge is expected to be completed before the holidays arrive, according to U. S. Army Corps of Engineers officials.
While the original completion date was set for
late October, the Corps is now aiming to finish its five- month repainting project in the second or third week of November, Corps spokesman Tim Boyle said on Tuesday.
“We are on schedule,” he said. “We’ve basically doubled the crew size, so they have a lot more hands on site getting the work done … We also went from five to six days of work earlier in the summer, adding Saturdays.”
Residents have noticed that pickup in recent weeks as the eastern side of the span has been finished and those who were once worried about the speed of the project’s completion early in the summer have voiced their pleasure about the uptick of activity in recent town meetings.
While the speed of work has picked up, weather is still the biggest hindrance to the Corps’ schedule.
“Really the wind more than the rain, but we’ve definitely had a slowdown of productivity due to safety concerns,” Boyle said. “Unless we have another round or two of hurricanes, we should be right on target.”
Chesapeake City Mayor Dean Geracimos said Tuesday that he understood the reason for the slight delay in the schedule.
“There’s not much any of us can do about the weather,” he said.
Geracimos, who championed the repainting project as part of his revitalization plan for the waterfront town, said it has been a difficult summer as residents and visitors dealt with the headache, but the result will be worth it.
“The product so far looks really good,” he said. “It’s been a pain for everybody, but in another month or so we’ll be back to normal.”
The Corps, which maintains the 68- year- old bridge as the agency responsible for the upkeep and safety of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, originally hoped to star t the project in late April, but instead kicked of f in early June as it worked through traffic control issues.
Corcon Inc., an Ohiobased construction firm that specializes in bridge painting and has completed major projects like the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, has been tasked with the $ 6.8 million project, which will both beautify and protect the bridge, as crews sandblast off the deteriorating paint from rails and stair wells along the bridge, replace the chain link fencing, com- plete necessary repairs and repaint the af fected areas.
With crews working perilously close to traf fic on the two- lane bridge, however it requires a closure of one lane for the duration of the project, creating traffic delays for the 13,500 vehicles that cross the span daily.
Drivers will only have to contend with the Chesapeake City Bridge traffic for a few more weeks as the Corps of Engineers plans to finish the project in mid-November.