Work underway on $93 million Memorial Bridge collision protection system


Construction on the new Delaware Memorial Bridge Protection System is underway and is expected to be completed in September 2025.

The cost of the project is nearly $93 million and is partially funded by a $22.25 million U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.

“The Delaware Memorial Bridge is a vital transportation link in the I-95 north-south corridor and millions of people rely on it to move products, visit family or commute to work on a daily basis,” said Thomas J. Cook, executive director of the DRBA.  “The current bridge tower pier protection systems are original to each span and today’s tankers and ships are bigger and faster than those of the 1950s and 1960s.”

Damage from a collision would create a transportation nightmare on the I-95 corridor that runs between Florida and New England. Interstate 95 travels through Delaware and is the junction for I-295, which connects with the New Jersey Turnpike and other routes.

The new bridge ship collision protection system project consists of the installation of eight stone filled “dolphin” cylinders, each measuring 80 feet in diameter. Four cells will be installed at the piers supporting both eastern and western towers. The cylinders are located a minimum of 443 feet from the edge of the Delaware River’s 800 foot wide channel.


Earlier this month, the contractor began to construct a temporary trestle from the Delaware shoreline south of New Jersey bound bridge to transport materials and personnel to barges.  Large barges with cranes will work on the site near the Delaware Tower Structures Wick drains will go into the river bottom act like straws, enabling water to travel to the surface as thecells are filled with sand and stone.  As the soft material compresses from the weight, the water contained within the framework is squeezed out and up.

A barge loaded with 115-foot long sheet piling will arrive from Louisiana for installation at the site.  The process takes approximately three months for each cell to be completed.  This process will be repeated seven times to construct each of the solid-fill dolphin cells.

In late 2022, R.E. Pierson Construction Company of nearby Pilesgrove Township, NJ, was awarded the contract to build the new system.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in construction and maintenance work has take place in and around the bridge. The first span was built more than 70 years ago, with the second span added more than a decade later.

The DRBA is a two-state authority that operates the bridge, the Cape-May Lewes Ferry and airports in the region.