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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
DE-1 Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Crossing
Saint Georges, DE

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 1902082.
• Location: 5.2 Miles West Of Reedy Point.
• Canal Elevation: 0 Feet (Sea Level).
• Highway: DE-1.
• Daily Traffic Count: 67,564 (2008).
• Bridge Type: Cable Stayed.
• Length: 4,650 Feet, 750 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 127 Feet, 112 Feet Curb-To-Curb, 6 Traffic Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 400 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 142 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened December 1, 1995.
Delaware sees a large volume of weekend traffic heading to its beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. A large chunk of this traffic comes from the Wilmington and Philadelphia area via the Interstate Highway system. This traffic was funneled through northern Delaware via highway US-13. This highway passed through several towns as well as Dover, the capital city of Delaware. This was slow going for the beach traffic, and it snarled roads used by local residents along the way.

Solutions to this problem were proposed as early as the late 1950s. The route through central Delaware was rejected as part of the Interstate Highway system. A later attempt to build a Delaware Turnpike failed, as well as a second attempt at an Interstate Highway. Eventually, the state of Delaware decided to abandon hopes of a federal solution and proposed a 4-lane controlled access state highway in 1985. A routing was agreed upon in 1987, and the road was given the designation of highway DE-1 in 1989. While the road is officially known as the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, locals call it the ‘relief route’.

One obstacle faced by the construction of highway DE-1 is the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, a 14-mile long ship canal that cuts across northern Delaware. Since this canal hosts ocean-going vessels, it would have to be high, at least 100 feet over the water. The solution that was selected is a Cable Stayed Bridge. This bridge was known as the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge when it opened in 1995. It was officially named after Senator William V. Roth Jr. in November, 2006. Roth is known for his bill that created the Roth IRA.

Highway DE-1 is a tollway from the Delaware Turnpike south to Dover. However, the exits on each side of the Roth Bridge are free. This is to allow local traffic to use the bridge to cross the C&D Canal without paying tolls. One reason for this is that while the US-13 Saint Georges Bridge is still open to automobile traffic, the US Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the US-13 bridge, would like to encourage trucks to use the Roth Bridge rather and cheating the weight limits on the Saint Georges Bridge to avoid tolls.

There are a few unique design features of the Roth Bridge. The bridge spans are built entirely using precast segmental box sections. They were cast off-site and brought in on barges. The bridge is also an early example of the use of delta frames. For example, while the approach lanes are two separate parallel spans, the main canal span appears to be one single wide span. However, it is actually two parallel spans that are permanently joined by concrete trusses. These are the delta frames. They join and support the parallel lanes, and also have the attachment to the cables. Another interesting feature of the bridge is that the spans on the outside of the towers, which would normally be suspended spans, are actually supported by piers on the Roth Bridge. As a result, the only span that is suspended is the main canal span. This design works in conjunction with another feature. The cables are not attached to the towers. Rather, they pass through the tower in tubes known as saddles. The net effect is that the cables hold up the suspended canal span, pass up and through the tower, then down to a fixed span. The weight of the fixed span counterbalances the weight of the suspended span.

The photo above is looking west into the bright afternoon sun towards the east side of the Roth Bridge from the north side of the C&D Canal. The photo below is looking south towards the Roth Bridge from Kirkwood Saint Georges Road, which has an overpass over highway DE-1 about three-fourths of a mile north of the canal. The overpass is posted with a number of signs prohibiting stopping, standing, or parking, and there were trees in the way. In looking at aerial photos, there may be some better vantage points north of the canal, which I will check out the next time I am in the area.


Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos are views looking north towards the Roth Bridge from the exit ramp from southbound highway DE-1 to Lorewood Grove Road. The photo above is from about one-half mile from the canal. The photo below is a bit closer, one-third of a mile from the canal, but is lower in elevation.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
The photo above is the north main bridge tower. The photo below is the south main bridge tower. Both photos are views looking east from the towpath along the north side of the canal. The US-17 Saint Georges Bridge over the C&D Canal is visible in the background.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos are views of the west face of the Roth Bridge. The photo below shows the south cable stay plane, and a small part of the north cable plane. This view is from about 750 feet west of the structure. The photo below is from about 1,600 feet west of the Roth Bridge. Most of the north cable plane is visible in this view.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos are views looking down the west face of the main channel span of the Roth Bridge. The photo above is from just slightly further west, so the south cable plane is visible, while the cables are not visible in the photo below.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
The photo above is a view looking north along the west face of the Roth Bridge from the north side of the canal. The photo below is a similar view looking directly down the center of the bridge. The main bridge tower is directly behind this vantage point. Note that the the suspended deck is one piece, while the approach spans are two parallel roadways.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
The photo above is looking up towards the bottom of the bridge span where the north main bridge tower passes through the bridge deck. The photo below is the base of the north main bridge tower. The center pier is the main tower, while the piers on either side support the approach spans.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos are the first of an eight photo set showing a typical northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are rounding a small curve leading to the south end of the structure. We are just entering the south end of the bridge in the photo below.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos continue our northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are climbing the hill towards the main bridge span, while in the photo below, we are nearly at the top of the incline leading to the suspended spans.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos continue our northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are passing the south bridge tower, while in the photo below, we are passing the north bridge tower.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge
These two photos are the final two of an eight photo set showing a typical northbound bridge crossing. In the photo above, we are just starting down the incline leading away from the suspended spans, while in the photo below, we are approaching the north end of the structure.

Senator William V. Roth Jr. Bridge

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