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55 Hours: What You Need to Know About Northeast Extension Closure

A 60-year-old bridge along the Northeast Extension is being demolished and replaced this weekend. Motorists should be prepared to avoid the scene or deal with lengthy detours.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission closed a stretch of the Northeast Extension on Friday night so crews can demolish and replace a deteriorating 60-year-old bridge.

The closure, near Allentown, will last through early Monday.

It's a huge interruption for the 30,000 drivers who use the road each day -- including residents of the Lehigh Valley and people on their way to the Poconos.


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Here's what drivers need to know:

When will the road be closed?

The turnpike commission closed the Northeast Extension (also known as Interstate 476) at milepost 57.6, near Allentown, at 9 p.m. Friday night. It will remain shutdown through 4 a.m. Monday morning.

What’s the detour?

During the 55-hour closure, northbound drivers are being forced off at the Lehigh Valley Interchange (No. 56) while southbound drivers need to get off at the Pocono Interchange (No. 95). Drivers then are led through a detour along Route 22, Route 33 and Interstate 80.

Leave yourself some time. The normal drive is just under 40 miles and takes around 35 minutes. But the detour is 70 miles and 70 minutes.

Southbound drivers will still be able to access the Route 903 (No. 87) and Mahoning Valley (Route 74) interchanges but won’t be able to pass Mahoning Valley, the commission said. The "local detour" along U.S. Route 209 is about 60 miles and will take around 65 minutes.

What should drivers expect? Trouble.

"Motorists will face a lengthy detour that will add more than an hour to their travel time," turnpike CEO Mark Compton said. "As a result, we strongly advise customers to avoid this area or plan for extra travel time during the detour weekend."

What work is being done?

Crews will replace the existing steel I-beam bridge over Crackersport Road in South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County with a new steel plate girder bridge.

Why is the replacement needed?

Photos show rust, decay and cracks to the bridge, which spans 131 feet. It carries around 30,000 drivers daily, the turnpike commission said.

How is the work being done so quickly?

It normally takes crews about 18 months to replace a bridge but this project will take just one weekend.

Construction crews from Road-Con Inc. from West Chester have spent months building the 115-foot spans for the new bridge next to the existing structure and will slide them into place over the weekend, the commission said.

What if weather doesn’t cooperate?

The bridge replacement will be pushed to Oct. 20 to 23.

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