Route 113 southbound rerouted in Millsboro

As DelDOT repair work continues on the Iron Branch Bridge in Millsboro, drivers on southbound Route 113 are being detoured, and Millsboro police are directing traffic at least until the end of this week.

Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway, at the Monday, Nov. 4, Millsboro Town Council meeting, told council members that work on Radish Road is complete, with the detour-route road being overlaid and slightly widened.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the highway was shut down for 12 hours.

“This morning, there was some traffic concerns. I reached out to DelDOT for some solutions. We went from not needing police there to now needing more than they thought we would need. We’re going to take care of that. We’re going to send more officers out there,” Calloway said.

Representatives from the Delaware Department of Transportation last summer had explained the project to the town council, saying a portion of the bridge over Iron Branch, heading south, would be rebuilt and a portion of Route 113 southbound would be closed during the work.

The area is expected to reopen by Sunday, Nov. 17, although inclement weather could cause a delay.

In the meantime, there’s a detour for truck traffic, from Route 113 south to Route 24 west, left on Nine Foot Road and back to Route 113. Automobiles heading south are turning right onto Radish Road, left onto Hickory Hill Road, then left on Handy Road before getting back onto Route 113 southbound. Police are directing traffic at Radish and Hickory Hill roads between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.

Calloway said police were patrolling the area until 7 p.m. daily but were only expected to continue that until Friday.

“We are hoping they can get the highway open on one side. If not, we will have to be there on the weekend. We’ll get through this,” Calloway said.

Message boards are up to inform and instruct drivers.

The first phase of the project was the milling and overlay of Radish Road, followed by putting the detour in place. Portions of the bridge that were built in 1915 and 1946, in the area of Auto Zone and the former Hardee’s off Route 113, will be replaced.

Formally listed as Bridge 3-507, the structure is part of Delaware’s state-owned inventory and maintained by the Delaware Department of Transportation.

The core is an original two-lane structure built in 1916 to carry the new T. Coleman du Pont Highway over Iron Branch in Millsboro.

It was modified twice during the next few years, to accommodate wider shoulders, then to dualize Route 113, according to information provided by DelDOT.

The older southbound portion consists of concrete-encased steel beams and concrete abutments. The southbound portion will be replaced with a new, three-sided precast concrete frame.

Although the bridge has remained safe, it required updating, DelDOT officials told Millsboro town council members last summer.

“The 1915 and 1946 portions will be ripped out. Pipes are located in the middle of the bridge. We would have had to divert the entire drainage with the larger, eight-month project. Now, we will put a temporary pipe through the work area, put new footings in and replace the frame,” a DelDOT engineer told the council.

If full replacement had been done, the engineer said, there would have been “a huge impact on the public and nearby businesses,” including 12 residential driveways and several nearby businesses.

Instead, DelDOT devised a plan to accelerate work so there will only be a two-week closure of the southbound lanes and no impact to northbound lanes.

At the time, Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson emphasized that the bridge repair is not a Town project. He said the accelerated option was preferred and that town officials “certainly hope DelDOT makes every effort to encourage its contractor to honor the timeline relative to construction work.”

“Obviously, we have concerns about the traffic impacts, although we recognize the need for the project to be done,” Hudson said.

By Susan Canfora
Staff Reporter