Gov.John Carney andNew Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondojoinedDelaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) officialson Wednesday, Sept. 12, to commemorate 50 years of the Delaware Memorial Bridge’sTwin Span.TheDelaware-boundportion of the bridge—constructed at a cost of $70 million—first opened to traffic and much fanfare on Sept. 12, 1968.Today it serves asa vital transportation link in the eastern corridor of the U.S., handling more than 36 million vehicles annually.
“The Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span is more than a concrete and steel structure soaring over the Delaware River,”said James N. Hogan, DRBA chairman. “This engineering marvel is an eternal, living memorial to those valiant men and women from the states of New Jersey and Delaware who gave their lives for our freedoms.We’re proud of the history, legacy and role that these bridges have had on our region and its economic vitality.”
“Whether transporting goods and services, traveling for a family vacation or commuting to work, millions of people rely on these bridges daily to get to their destination,”noted executive director Tom Cook. “As we remember and celebrate 50 years of making possible these daily connections, it is my hope that we also think about vice president Hubert Humphrey’s message that day at the[original] dedication:‘We must build new bridges—not just bridges of concrete and steel, but of tolerance, understanding and cooperation.’Those words are as true today as they were in 1968.”
During Wednesday’sceremony, the DRBAcommission recognized and honored the bi-state agency’sfirst executive director, William J. Miller, Jr. Withextensive experience in bridges and highways, Miller was a natural choice for first executive director position of the newly formed Delaware River and Bay Authority in 1963. TheTwin Spanwas planned, financed and constructed under his direction and leadership, and has since becomeworld-renowned for its innovative design and construction.During the DRBA’s formative years, Miller also championed the launch of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry as a key transportation link betweenDelaware and New Jersey. Miller retired on Dec. 31, 1991.
“The Delaware Memorial Bridge provides Delawareans and visitors easy access to major highways, tax-free shopping, businesses in downtown Wilmingtonand attractions along [the]Wilmington Riverfront,”saidGov. Carney. “We are proud of its significance in making Delaware more accessible for the past50years, and we look forward to continuing to work together with New Jersey and the Delaware River and Bay Authority.”
“The critical role the Delaware Memorial Bridge plays in the daily lives of South Jersey residents and New Jersey’s economy cannot be overstated,”said Rep.LoBiondo.“[…] [T]here is no calculating the countless benefits the Mid-Atlantic region has enjoyed. I applaud the foresight of New Jersey and Delaware five decades ago, and [their]continued partnership for the next 50 years.”
When the Twin Spanopened in 1968, the Delaware Memorial Bridge was the longest twin-suspension bridge in the world. TheNational Society of Professional Engineers deemed itone of the 10 outstanding engineering achievements of 1968.
Todaythe bridge handles more vehicles inonehour than it didin one wholeday in 1951, when the first spanof the bridge opened.The bridgerecorded its largest single day of traffic volume on Nov. 29, 2009,when 79,488 vehicles passed (one way)through the toll plaza.The Twin Span registered its one-billionth toll transactionon Dec. 12, 2012, at 11:59 a.m., as Jeff Wright of Wildwood, New Jersey,passed through toll laneNo. 2.