Skip to Content

Shellpot Railroad Swing Bridge Rehabilitation

Promo Icon 2 Updated

To maintain their leadership role, Norfolk Southern partnered with the Delaware Department of Transportation to improve rail service efficiency throughout the state. Doing so meant restoring the historic Shellpot swing bridge connection between the Port of Wilmington and Norfolk Southern’s Edgemoor Yard, key components for the distribution of bulk commodities and produce. Built in 1888, the 252-ft. wrought-iron through truss swing bridge had been decommissioned for 10 years prior to Modjeski and Masters’ evaluation and detailed inspection. 

To restore the swing bridge to operating condition, the design team developed a sustainable solution to rehabilitate and reuse the swing span truss, pivot pier, and approach superstructure. The swing bridge, together with newly-designed electrical and mechanical components, was raised above the flood zone. Our electrical design also included an innovative system allowing for safe remote control of the swing bridge by the railroad’s dispatchers, located in Harrisburg, PA. New concrete approach piers with prestressed concrete piles and new fender protection system were used to complement the salvaged components, thus breathing life back into the sleeping giant. Upon its successful completion, then-Governor of Delaware Ruth Ann Minner guided the ceremonial running of the first Norfolk Southern locomotive across the new Shellpot Bridge.  

Bridge Geometry
Length of Main Span 252 Feet
Total Project Length 740 Feet
Tracks on Structure One

Reopening the Shellpot Bridge positions rail service in Delaware as a first class transportation option. […] We expect all Port [of Wilmington] customers to benefit from this improved rail service.

-Nathan Hayward III, then Delaware Department of Transportation Secretary