Delaware River Bridge to remain closed for at least eight more weeks

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 2/7/2017

Engineers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have estimated that the Delaware River Turnpike Bridge on Interstate 276 will remained closed for a minimum of eight more weeks, according to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. On Jan. 20, engineers found a significant crack in the bridge and immediately shut it down indefinitely while undergoing repairs.

The emergency engineering task force set up by PTC and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority recently announced an April-date reopening will be the best-case scenario. If engineers discover more severe repairs need to be done, that timeline is likely to extend. In the event more complex repairs are needed, engineers say there is no way to determine how long it will take without more information.

According to a PTC spokesperson, engineers are simultaneously designing work on bigger repairs as a precautionary measure. Engineers are currently jacking and monitoring the bridge, which may reveal more complex issues. However, it is not possible to predict if such repairs will need to be done.

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.

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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