Update: Weighty Matters Postpone Transport of Lewes RR Swing Bridge
For the time being, the historic Lewes Railroad Swing Bridge is staying in the spot where it’s been since 1916: at the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal.
According to DelDOT, after a day of work Wednesday to prepare for its removal, the contractor determined that the crane would not be able to lift the bridge safely. The bridge was found to be heavier than originally estimated.
The Lewes Junction Railroad and Bridge Association was planning to transport the swing bridge to American Legion Road near its intersection with what is now a multi-use trail.
DelDOT, the design consultant and the contractor are currently re-evaluating the plan and determining a path forward before proceeding.
(Below are excerpts from an original story from WGMD’s Mari Lou)
The removal is necessary due to settlement that has occurred in the foundation resulting in the bridge being declared unsafe for further use and cost-prohibitive to repair. As a result, the train tracks were removed between Harbeson and Lewes and the railroad was decommissioned in 2017. The railbed has since been converted to a multi-use rail trail.
This bridge is one of the last remaining hand-operated swing bridges in the country. Additionally, it is a rare bob-tailed bridge meaning one end is longer than the other. The bridge will be carefully placed on a flatbed truck and make a very slow trip at 5 mph to American Legion Road. Several area roads will experience detours during this
operation. Once it is transported, the bridge will be lifted one last time onto its new foundation at a display area where American Legion Road intersects the rail trail. Its new home is appropriately located just across the canal and a short distance down the trail from its previous location. The entire process of removal and placement will be recorded via a DelDOT drone due to the bridge’s historical significance.
The LJRBA advocated to save the bridge from the scrap yard. The Association’s mission is to preserve, display and interpret the historical significance of the railroad to Lewes and Eastern Sussex County, Delaware in an authentic and appealing setting for the education and enjoyment of the public. Through the cooperation of DelDOT, the City of Lewes and coordination between the three entities, a plan was developed which identified the area in which the bridge will be displayed and interpreted. Additionally, LJRBA is making plans to acquire and display railroad rolling stock on a section of track which was preserved between the Lewes Public Library and the Margaret Rollins Center.
More information about LJRBA can be found at www.lewesjunctionrr.org where donations to support LJRBA’s work can be made.