Turnpike bridge linking Pa., New Jersey to remain closed

Written by The Associated Press | Jan 22, 2017 6:02 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Slocum

(Bristol) -- A bridge linking Pennsylvania and New Jersey that was closed due to a fracture will remain closed until engineers can come up with a repair plan, transportation officials said Saturday.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission said work was being done over the weekend to stabilize the Interstate 276 bridge, which links Bristol in Bucks County to Burlington Township in New Jersey. The work involves adding new plates to reconnect the fractured truss piece spotted Friday below the westbound right lane's riding surface on the Pennsylvania side to prevent further movement.

Authorities said a comprehensive analysis must be done to better understand what impact the fracture has had on the bridge. Such an assessment will take two weeks, and until more is understood about the damage no estimate is possible about when a permanent repair can be made to allow reopening of the bridge, the commission said.

"This was a unique and complete fracture, which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions," turnpike commission chairman Sean Logan said in a statement. "... 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 fracture was spotted during a routine check of a bridge-painting project by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and a sample of the fractured truss has been taken for forensic analysis. The bridge will be under constant watch and monitored around the clock utilizing a high definition video survey, officials said.

Transportation officials have suggested possible detours in advising drivers to prepare for slow-moving or stopped traffic, especially during the afternoon and evening hours.

The 1.2-mile-long bridge, which opened to traffic on May 23, 1956, carries more than 42,000 vehicles per day eastbound and westbound.

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