After 10 years of planning, it took just a few minutes for two large cranes to lift the new Charles Emerson Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge into place over the White Clay Creek.
A crew from New Jersey-based Richard E. Pierson Construction Company shut down Paper Mill Road on Friday night, and the pre-fabricated bridge was delivered and laid out on the vehicular bridge over the creek.
Workers spent a day preparing the new bridge, and just after 2 a.m. Sunday, the cranes lifted it up and placed it upon two abutments that were built earlier this year.
With the bridge installed, the contractor still needs about a week to finish installation of floor planks and other small tasks before the bridge can open to the public, city officials said.
Named for a former parks and recreation director, the new bridge parallels the vehicular Paper Mill Road bridge over the creek near Timothy's restaurant.
The vehicular bridge has a narrow sidewalk that is unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. Building a separate bridge provides safer passage and connects Newark’s downtown with neighborhoods and trails north of the creek.
City officials have been planning the bridge since 2011, but it has seen its share of controversy over the years.
In September 2017, city council grew concerned about rising costs and killed the project, only to revive it a week later after then-Mayor Polly Sierer lined up contributions from New Castle County, local state legislators and the University of Delaware.
The bridge ultimately cost $2 million, much of which was funded by federal grants.