Delaware Memorial Bridge closed on peak traffic day
Traffic came to a complete halt last Sunday, when Delaware’s largest bridge was forced to close on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
The Delaware Memorial Bridge, a major twin-suspension bridge linking Pennsville Township, N.J., to New Castle, Del., had all of its eight lanes closed due to a flammable gas leak at a nearby chemical processing plant.
Management of Croda’s Atlas Point manufacturing site advised authorities to close the bridge around 5 p.m., when unsafe levels of ethylene oxide, were found to have leaked into the air. The plant is located on the Delaware side of the river, directly adjacent to the major bridge.
Students making their way back to the university through New Jersey at this time found themselves at a dead stop on the roads that lead up to the bridge. Traffic was redirected to other crossings, including Route 322’s Commodore Barry Bridge into Chester, and Route 76’s Walt Whitman Bridge into Philadelphia.
“After an hour of waiting in the traffic leading up to the bridge, my GPS took me back 20 miles to Route 76,” second-year student Dan Bartfield said. “I was stuck in traffic moving in the opposite direction as my destination.”
Bartfield, a history education major at the university, did not arrive at the university until over five hours after his departure from central New Jersey, more than doubling his usual travel time.
The bridge was reopened at 11 p.m., once the levels of ethylene oxide were found to have returned to a safe level.
The closure lost travelers hours of their holiday weekend and the Delaware River Bay Authority six hours’ worth of peak travel time toll revenue.