Asbestos Delays Major Roadwork in Delaware
One never knows what one will find when tearing up old roadways. In the case of a major and highly-traveled artery in Delaware, asbestos was found. Now, it is the presence of this old asbestos that’s causing huge delays in reopening the highway prior to the Christmas holiday season.
The bridge at Route 141 that passes over Rt. 13 was closed in October because it was plagued with “deck punch-throughs”, notes DelDOT, the agency responsible for roads and road conditions in The First State.
Spot patching efforts just weren’t doing the job anymore, so it was necessary to consider a major rehab project. The agency decided that was a wise move and announced that the bridge would close but hoped that all would be complete by mid-December.
Now, the presence of about 1,200 feet of asbestos conduit pipe is throwing a monkey wrench in the project, likely delaying the opening until sometime next year.
The hazardous pipe was found inside the north and south-bound sidewalks during initial demolition. It hadn’t been identified when surveyors first considered the project and exactly how the construction would play out.
As a result of the pipe, the contractors on the project had to halt all demolition work until the material was safely removed. Special contractors trained in asbestos removal and licensed for disposal of the toxin had to be called in to complete the job.
“Work on the bridge continues to uncover unforeseen issues that our design consultant, McCormick Taylor, and contractor, Mumford and Miller are addressing,” said DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan in a statement to the press. “These issues must be resolved before the decking can be placed and the roadway reopened.”
It’s not unusual to find hazardous asbestos in roadways, especially those that were constructed during the middle decades of the 20th century.
The mineral was used in a variety of construction materials because of its amazing strength and its heat- and fire-proof properties. It was also inexpensive and readily available, so it seemed to make sense to use it to build America’s highways.
However, it has been clear since the 1920s that asbestos is hazardous to the health of humans. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma cancer to develop, even with casual exposure.
The individuals most at risk, however, are those who were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis, such as the workers that built that Delaware roadway many years ago.
Today, it’s likely some of them are suffering from asbestos-related diseases due to their work in the highway construction field.