To take stress off the damaged Delaware River Bridge, engineers are literally jacking up the 1.2 mile-long span by installing extra supports as they work to permanently fix a fracture in the structure.
Eight, 80-foot tall jacking towers will be installed under the bridge next week, Carl DeFebo, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, said Friday.
The towers will shore up the 135-foot high bridge, which connects the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes by spanning the Delaware River, after a large vertical crack was found in a truss a week ago. The bridge is jointly owned by the Pa. Turnpike Commission and N.J. Turnpike Authority.
The fracture was discovered on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge by an inspector who was reviewing a contractor's paint job. Officials immediately shut down the bridge, which carries an average of 42,000 vehicles a day.
The truss is on the underside of the bridge in an area holding up the road deck.
DeFebo said engineers are still trying to figure out what caused the fracture and when the break happened. He estimates they'll need an additional week to come to a conclusion.
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In addition to the support towers, electronic monitors to detect stress on the bridge will be installed, DeFebo said.
The bridge will remain closed in the meantime. Approach roads leading to the bridge, like the 5.7-mile N.J. Turnpike's Pearl Harbor Extension are also shut down.
DeFebo did not have an update on when the span may reopen, but officials previously said the shut down would last at least two weeks.