Truckers who plan to cross the Delaware River Bridge anytime soon will need to reroute. After discovering a significant crack in the bridge, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpike officials have closed the bridge indefinitely until repairs have been made.
On Jan. 20, engineers found a complete fracture in a 14-inch steel truss on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge below the westbound right lane. Due to the fracture, the bridge was considered unsafe.
As of press time, officials have no way of knowing exactly how long the bridge will remain closed. However, the damage assessment is expected to take approximately two weeks. Only after the assessment can officials prepare a timeline for the long-term repair.
In the meantime, the following detours have been established:
- Eastbound: Exit at Bensalem Interchange, No. 351 in Buck County. Follow U.S. Route 1 north to I-95 north to I-295 south to I-195 east. Take Exit 6 on I-195 and re-enter the New Jersey Turnpike.
- Westbound: Detour at New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 7A to I-195 westbound to I-295 northbound, which becomes I-95 southbound; or from New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 5 to Mount Holly Road. Motorists traveling from northern New Jersey are advised to exit at Interchange 14 and use I-78 west.
- Local roads under bridge: Radcliff Street, Palmer Avenue and Wood Avenue will also be closed. Drivers traveling east from Route 130 can use Interchange 6 to access the New Jersey Turnpike via the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension. The westbound Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension will remain closed to all traffic; there will be no access to Interchange 6 from that direction.
Carrying more than 42,000 vehicles each day, the bridge closure is expected to cause significant delays and congestion in the area.
Bridge stabilization work was completed on Sunday, Jan. 22. Engineers will now build eight towers beneath the bridge to support the structure.
Build in 1956, the bridge has undergone four major rehabilitation projects on the Pennsylvania side, according to a Pennsylvania Turnpike press release. In 1970, the bridge had a deck joint replacement. Similar repairs were made nearly 30 years later from 1998 to 2001. The latest repair began in 2012, which includes a major rehabilitation project that costs more than $60 million. Yearly deck repairs were made from 1989 to 1998. Similar repairs at similar costs were also made on the New Jersey side.
Per National Bridge Inspection Standards, the Delaware River Bridge is inspected every two years.
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