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DelDOT Continues To Search For Cause Of Tilting I-495 Bridge

By Jan Carabeo

WILMINGTON, Del., (CBS) -- Delaware Governor Jack Markell toured the site Thursday of the Interstate-495 bridge that is closed indefinitely due to tilting columns.

Markell joined DelDOT officials to check out the bridge and got an up-close of the problem Thursday afternoon.

Markell took a tour up top, taking a looking at that 18-inch difference in the north and southbound decks.

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Once he came back, he announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved $2 million in emergency relief funds for the bridge.

Eyewitness News reporter Jan Carabeo was able to speak with the engineering consulting company that tipped DelDOT off to this problem in the first place.

It was a fortunate set of circumstances that lead a couple of engineers to raise the red flag about this problem.

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Four sets of support columns on the I-495 bridge in Wilmington tilting.

One pier was so bad that the top is two feet out of line with the bottom.

"These were foundation engineers, geotechnical engineers who knew. So just a very lucky quirk of fate," Jeff Bross of Duffield Associates said.

They were lucky to be in the area on an unrelated job.

As engineers for Duffield Associates dug through the soil looking at pipeline, they noticed something off near the bridge.

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"They saw very significant soil cracking, very long, very wide, very deep that indicates there was a failure going on in the subsurface below," Bross said.

Engineers are still looking for the cause conducting a subsurface investigation.

On Thursday, DelDOT ruled out corrosion.

But they are still investigating the soft, compressible soil here.

And while officials can't say for sure, it's possible that the weight from this huge pile of dirt has played a role.

Some of this property is owned by Dupont, but it's leased to another company who in turn has a dirt storage agreement with Keogh Contracting.

CBS 3 is told that agreement has been in place a couple of years.

DelDOT says the owner of Keogh has been cooperative since the start, crews busy moving this dirt all week long.

"Looked at in the next week," DelDOT Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt said.

They're going to be focused on bridges like this one near water and they want to make sure there are no piles of dirt nearby like that.

Another update today, tilt sensors indicated that movement here is negligible. And the schedule for reopening is somewhere between weeks and months.

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