Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary Shailen Bhatt unveiled the results of an investigation of the emergency closure and repair of a portion of the Interstate 495 bridge in Delaware at a roundtable on Thursday.
During the roundtable held at DelDOT's administrative building in Dover, Bhatt confirmed that the department overlooked opportunities to address reported issues on the bridge prior to its closing.
"DelDOT had three opportunities, from a 911 call, emails from an engineering firm, and a second 911 call from members of the public who tried to let them know the conditions of the bridge," he said.
"It is very clear to me that we did not take appropriate action based on those calls. We should have responded to the 911 calls. We did send people out, but we didn’t send the right people out. That will be a change that we have going forward."
Officials closed the bridge on June 2 after noticing that supporting columns on the bridge were tilting.
According to Bhatt, it was a large pile of dirt that was dumped beneath the bridge that caused the ground to shift and made the bridge columns lean. Bhatt also confirmed that the company who dumped dirt under the bridge did not have permission to dump dirt at the site.
DelDOT has been working to repair the bridge, which carries roughly 90,000 vehicles a day, since June. Bhatt says the department will be able to complete the repairs and reopen the southbound lanes of the bridge before Labor Day.