Markell’s Leaning Tower Of Incompetence?

bridge   It seems as though we here in Delaware now have our very own “BRIDGE GATE”.

The story of the shut down of the I-495 bridge over the Christina River has now gone national, and no wonder, considering it is a major north, south route for both commuters, and the trucking industry.

If you have only been following the story casually, you would think that this all started on Monday evening of this week, June 2nd when the bridge was closed due to a section of the bridge that is now leaning at least four degrees out of plumb. You would be wrong however, just as you would be wrong if you thought that it actually began on May 29th when a couple of  private engineers just happened to be out for a stroll and noticed that the bridge was in their words, “a little out of plumb”. Remember these are engineers we are talking about, so a little, is a relevant statement.

No, it would seem that the state actually received a report to a 911 operator from a person who had gone across the bridge and noticed that it wasn’t just right. Now was this last Wednesday? Or maybe Tuesday? Maybe it was sometime in May?  If you guessed any of these, you would be wrong. It was actually back on April 15th. Here is a recording of that 911 call courtesy of delawareonline.


So there was a report of a problem as far back as April 15th, and no one thought it was worth a look? Did the operator not report it? Unlikely, but possible. Did DelDOT just think it wasn’t worth a trip out to the site in a government issued vehicle? Very likely, and possible. Or is it possible that Del DOT, its secretary Shailen Bhatt, and the Markell administration were concerned with having to shut down such a major route at the beginning of the vacation season, not to mention race weekend in Dover this past weekend.
Which also begs the question, why did it take four days to investigate the report from the private engineers on Thursday night, until Monday evening to determine that the bridge should be shut down? Were they just waiting for all, or most of the race fans to have left the area before closing down the I-495 Bridge?

DelDOT Chief Engineer Robert McCleary confirms that the agency’s bridge section received a call and emails from Duffield Associates about the bridge on May 29. And Gov. Jack Markell praised  R. David Charles of Duffield Associates, for reporting the tilting piers. Maybe the governor should hire Mr. Charles!

Of course in the long tradition of government, the Markell administration and Del Dot are looking for some place to lay blame. Right now it seem to be on a contractor who had been dumping dirt near the bridge on the Del Dot right of way. And while this may be the cause for the tilting, it may not be the fault.

The first question is, just how long has the bridge actually been out of kilter? We now know that back in April someone saw a problem, with no response from the state of Delaware. The second question is, who knew about that call and why no follow-up? Third question, why did the state wait all weekend after a report from a private engineer who is an expert in the very type of soil movement that may have cause the leaning? I have a feeling that the number of questions will continue to grow as the days and weeks, and months, go by while the bridge is repaired, if it can be.

Where has the state been in the years leading up to this closing? Why did no one notice the possibly illegal dumping? But don’t worry, because now the state of Delaware has tasked its bridge section to inspect all of Delaware’s bridges for similar situations.  Let us not forget, that this all comes on the heels of the Governor calling for a ten-cent tax increase on gasoline to pay for infrastructure improvements and projects. Timing is everything, especially since the Legislature is currently working on the upcoming budget.

The “GOOD” news is, our crack U.S. Congressional delegation will be working to bring ten cents on the dollar of our federal taxes back to the state to help fund repairs.  It has been announced by Gov. Markell that Delaware will receive $2 million in emergency funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Feds will also cover 100% of the cost to stabilize, prevent further damage, and restoration of the bridge for 180 days, after that the Feds will pay 90% according to the Federal Highway Administration.

That is all well and good, but who is going to cover the economic loss of this closure? This bridge carries around 90,000 vehicles daily, these will now have to find alternate routes, many on streets neither intended nor designed for such heavy volume of traffic, nor the weight of some of the vehicles. There will be added cost due to toll on these alternate routes, which in the case of the trucks will be passed onto the consumers.

This incident with the I-495 Bridge is merely an example of the State of Delaware’s inability to do one thing that government is actually good at, and tasked with by design. Keeping the roads open. So why is Delaware falling so far behind, that we need ten million dollars in new gasoline taxes, and we have allowed a major highway to come to a screeching halt?

A couple of reasons come to mind. One, the Legislature has for years, maybe decades, been robbing the transportation fund to pay for everything under the sun except transportation.  Second, in recent legislative sessions the legislators have not had their eye on the ball.

Instead of focusing on the things that government should be involved in, and should be taking care of, instead of finding ways to grow the economy, to create an atmosphere where new business, and jobs can be created along with revenue, instead of looking for ways to cut waste and redundant spending, and finding the money needed for infrastructure without raising taxes. Instead of doing their assigned jobs for the people. The one party ruling class in Dover, that would be the Democrats, at least right now, though this is nothing new, they have been consumed with social engineering rather than engineering roads.

Just look at the last General Assembly. What were the  major “ACCOMPLISHMENTS”?  We got gay marriage,  we got the “bathroom bill” allowing cross dressers to use the women’s bathrooms in public areas. We got gun bill after gun bill after gun bill. We have had medical marijuana legalized, we have had the penalty for possession of pot lowered, there is now legislation to totally decriminalize the possession of pot under an ounce. All of this while the roads and bridges fall into disrepair.

The Governor is actually proposing that the state build any number of bike paths and walking trails. For how many millions of dollars Governor Markell? Why in heaven’s name would we be worried about creating bike paths, why spend a dime on walking trails, when you as the governor are telling us we need ten million dollars for roads and bridges. Here is a wacky crazy idea, how about we take the money the governor would spend on paths and trails and spend it on roads and bridges. I know, I know, crazy talk, right?

It is clear that the Markell administration, along with his willing accomplices in the General Assembly, including Speaker of the House Pete Schwartzkopf, are either completely incompetent at governing, or they are intentionally destroying this states ability to grow and prosper. It is hard to believe, even for a hard-core conservative such as myself to believe that they would intentionally destroy the state, so we are forced to concede that they are incapable of making good sound decision on what is, and what isn’t government’s role in our lives. They seem to feel that they are in charge of  our personal lives, when all we really want and need government to do, is keep the roads open and safe.  Which this administration and the Democrats have failed at as demonstrated by the closing of the I-495 Bridge.

8 Comments on "Markell’s Leaning Tower Of Incompetence?"

  1. Mike Protack says:

    Democrats are in charge of Delaware’s Decline.

  2. fightingbluehen says:

    The other day Chris Coons addressed the Senate concerning “Americas failing infrastructure”, and this is what he said.

    “Mr. President, in my home State of Delaware today we have a problem. Just this week the critical I-495 bridge over the Christina River in Wilmington–which carries more than 90,000 drivers each and every day, north and south on this critical artery on the east coast of the United States–was closed indefinitely.”

    ……..But this is not part of “America’s failing infrastructure”. This bridge damage was caused by a huge dirt pile being dumped next to the bridge according to DelDOT.

    Coons conveniently left that little bit of information out of his speech.

    I don’t agree with Chris Coons’s politics, but I always figured that he was above this kind of chicanery.

    I guess I was wrong.

    These people will say anything to get another stimulus bill. I kind of thought that the first two stimulus packages were supposed to address “roads and bridges”. That’s what was touted anyway.

    What ever happened to that plan?

  3. Kurt J says:

    Gov. Taxus Jack Markell’s appointment of Shall Lean (as in the 495 bridge) Bhatt has brought diversity to what was a strictly native son corruption and incompetence endemic at DELDOT. Bhatt’s degree in Economics from a second rate University allows him to avoid the technical issues which blinded so many who have served in DELDOT’s leadership position before him.
    It was his role as a field director for the Obama campaign which impressed Markell, “hey this guy gets it – Money talks” , and” the diversity thing sealed the package”. In a statement released by one of Bhatt’s staffers ” There is an upside to this as so many out of state motorists will get to know the name Delaware and it will remain on their minds for some time to come.”

  4. delacrat says:

    How do you know it wasn’t a Republican who dumped the dirt near the bridge ?

  5. Frank Knotts says:

    Delacrat makes a great point. How do we know it wasn’t a Republican who dumped the dirt. After all, it was a privately owned company, not government employee. But we do know it happened on the watch of a Democrat administration.
    Good catch FBH!

  6. Rick says:

    It doesn’t matter who dumped the dirt. Why did DELDOT allow it to sit there? Don’t they employ any engineers?

    At Five Points, the lines on Plantation Road are now backing-up almost to Lowe’s. The left-turn lane on Rt 9 westbound is backing-up to Rt 1. DELDOT’s band-aid has failed- it is now time to face reality. As was the case ten years ago, there needs to be an overpass at Five Points.

    I also noticed that Delaware was named one of the most “bicycle friendly” states. Tell that to those riding on New Road, one of the primary cycle routes into Lewes. While there is plenty of room to add a small shoulder, there still isn’t one. I guess we’ll wait until some ten-year-old gets killed.

  7. Michael Pawlikowski says:

    50 year old concrete infrastructure failure – how do you think those 50 year old nuke plants are going to hold up? Can you imagine a nuclear power crisis being handled just like the I-495 bridge? Two months of a leaking radioactive power plant could cause many fatalities. By the time the public would figure out there was a problem, they would be walking dead.

    Sound farfetched ? Check out this map of a radioactive plume that includes Delaware. If people were serious about safety and infrastructure, these items would be discussed.

    (Edited for misleading link, Frank Knotts)

  8. Frank Knotts says:

    Michael, I guess if someone was allowed to dump thousands of tons of dirt next to a reactor your comparison of the two might have relevance, but since that is unlikely I don’t see he connection. It seems as though you have an agenda here, and since your link did not lead to a map, but a web site, I have edited it. But thanks for commenting.

Got something to say? Go for it!