Guest Post: Secretary Shailen Bhatt, Coastal Treasure Shines Again

May 8th, 2012

Secretary of Transportation Shailen BhattThis past Sunday, we celebrated the rich history and bright future of the Charles W. Cullen Bridge at the Indian River Inlet. Its history includes different bridge designs over the course of several decades, an ever-changing physical environment and the emergence of Delaware as one of the east coast’s premier resort locations. Its future will work to enhance its status as a treasure of the Delaware coast.

View of the Indian River Inlet BridgeIn January of this year, it was my pleasure to join Governor Markell, Senator Carper and others to open the southbound side of the bridge to traffic. Since then, anticipation has been building for the time when we would officially dedicate the bridge and prepare to open it fully to vehicles and pedestrians. In the coming weeks before Memorial Day weekend, DelDOT employees will work with our contractor, George and Lynch, to open the northbound side of the bridge, as well as the pedestrian walkway, which will usher in a new era in multi-modal transportation along the Delaware coast and eastern Sussex County.

For the first time since bridges have spanned the inlet, this crossing will not be subjected to the extreme tidal conditions that have affected, and sometimes destroyed, previous bridges. It is through the ingenuity and work of bridge builders Skanska Civil Southeast and their subcontractors, as well as our members of Team DelDOT, this new span has risen and will stand for many years to come.

View from the Indian River Inlet BridgeThe ceremonies on Sunday were also focused on re-dedicating the bridge structure to Charles W. Cullen. Mr. Cullen was born in Georgetown in 1865, and practiced law as a member of the Delaware Bar Association. In 1930, he became a member of the State Highway Commission and sat on the Commission until 1940. Throughout his life, he advocated for the inlet to be permanently established at its current location and worked to promote the internal development of the Indian River Bay and the economic and recreational benefits it had to offer. It is because of his drive and vision that this area of Delaware has become the economic and tourism jewel it is today.

Indian River Inlet Bridge in the mid 1930'sDelaware residents have marked the symbolic end of the bridge construction project. Now, work on the demolition of the old bridge, along with improvements to restore and enhance various State Park and campground amenities, will be moving forward. And soon, the Indian River Inlet area will once again live up to its position of being one of the true treasures of the Delaware coast.

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