Shout Out to Geotechnical Engineers
Delaware Bridge “...a DEFCON-5 for a Transportation System”
-Delaware Transportation Secretary Shailen P. Bhatt
On May 29, geotechnical engineer R. David Charles, P.E. was working on an unrelated project near the I-495 Bridge in Delaware when he noticed the bridge’s support columns looked ‘out-of-kilter.’ Charles and a colleague investigated further, snapping photos of the bridge columns from multiple angles. They rapidly reached the conclusion that at least one column, possibly more, might be significantly out of plumb.
They acted quickly.
Charles, Vice President of Duffield Associates, asked a colleague to reach out to a Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) contact. E-mails and photos were forwarded to the transportation agency to illustrate the engineers’ concerns. Within days, DelDOT closed this key bridge to protect the traveling public. To view the video ‘Cracks Found in I-495 Bridge Pier’ visit
ECS gives a big shout out to Mr. Charles and his colleagues for their quick thinking and actions. While he says he doesn’t think of himself as a hero, consider what could have happened if he hadn’t acted quickly.
Although the damage to this bridge does not appear to be a result of underfunding, it is a stark reminder of how quickly our transportation network can become clogged and ineffective. Without a source of stable, sustainable funding to address our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure, we can expect more such situations to arise. When key transportation nodes must be closed because they are unsafe for the traveling public, entire highway systems surrounding these locations also become gridlocked and impassable.
In general, transportation projects take years to complete. From concept to execution, transportation planning, maintenance, bidding, and construction requires a sustained effort to be successful. However, without proper funding, absolutely nothing can be accomplished.
For current bridge repair status and project updates from DelDOT, visit:
DelDOT projects. (Please be patient – this page may take a moment to load.)