|January 21, 2017|
UPDATE: Stabilization of Delaware River Turnpike Bridge Under Way
Bridge to remain closed as engineers formulate permanent repair plan.
The PA Turnpike Commission and New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s preliminary evaluation of a fracture discovered yesterday on the bridge that carries Interstate 276 over the Delaware River has determined the need for a continued closure. Construction work is now under way to stabilize the bridge while engineers engage in a more comprehensive assessment and structural analysis necessary to determine a permanent repair plan.
The stabilization work, expected to be wrapped up sometime this weekend, involves adding new plates to reconnect the fractured truss piece to prevent further movement. The fractured truss is below the riding surface on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge in the westbound right lane. A sample of the fractured truss has been taken for forensic analysis to help determine the cause of the fracture.
During this time, a comprehensive bridge analysis will be performed to better understand the global impact the fracture has had on the entire bridge; information gathered is critical to determine the scope of and strategy for a permanent repair and reopening the bridge to traffic. The bridge will be under constant watch and monitored around the clock utilizing a high definition video survey.
“This was a unique and complete fracture which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions,” explained PA Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan. “We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement. However, out of an abundance of caution and to protect traveler safety, the bridge must remain closed until a full-scale analysis and repair plan have been completed.”
The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA), which jointly own and maintain the bridge, agree that the bridge will remain closed while the assessment continues. This assessment will take about two weeks before timeline for the permanent repair can be determined. Until more is understood about the damage, it is not possible to estimate how many days or weeks the bridge will need to be closed while the permanent fix is made.
The PTC and NJTA will update the public on the project’s progress within the next 48 hours.
“Due to the significant fracture, stresses have been redistributed to other parts of the bridge,” said PA Turnpike Chief Engineer Brad Heigel. “We regret the inconvenience of closing the bridge, however, it is necessary to properly evaluate the bridge’s current condition and determine next steps to ensure the safety to our customers.”
The fracture, which was discovered on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge yesterday afternoon, was noticed during a routine check of a bridge-painting project by NJTA resident engineer examining the work on the bridge, the ownership of which is divided between the two toll agencies. The painting contractor was hired by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to repaint the entire bridge, which carries more than 42,000 vehicles per day, combined eastbound and westbound traffic.
The 1.2-mile-long bridge opened to traffic on May 23, 1956.
PA Turnpike motorists heading east into New Jersey should use this revised alternate route: Exit at the Bensalem Interchange, #351 in Bucks 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 reenter the NJ Turnpike.
Expect slow-moving or stopped traffic in the area, especially during the afternoon and evening hours.
NOTE: File photos of the Delaware River Bridge and the fracture are available for download at this link: https://www.paturnpike.com/yourTurnpike/multimedia_presentations.aspx