The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge will remain closed for at least two weeks after a crack was discovered in one of its trusses.
A New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) resident engineer discovered the fracture below the riding surface on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge in the westbound right lane Friday afternoon. The engineer was performing a routine check of a bridge-painting project at the time.
The 1.2-mile-long bridge, which carries more than 42,000 vehicles per day on Interstate 276 over the Delaware River was closed indefinitely. Construction crews are working to stabilize the bridge as engineers assess the damage to determine a permanent repair plan.
Crews are currently adding new plates to reconnect the fractured piece. A sample of the truss was taken for forensic analysis to help determine the exact cause of the fracture.
Officials are analyzing the impact of the fracture to determine a strategy for a permanent repair. The bridge will be under constant watch and will be monitored around the clock.
“This was a unique and complete fracture which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions,” said 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 bridge will remain closed as the assessment, which will take about two weeks, continues. Officials say it’s not possible at this time to estimate how many days or weeks the bridge will need to be closed after the assessment.
“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.”
Due to heavier traffic caused by the bridge closure as well as a Nor'easter expected to hit the region overnight into Monday, The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission issued a travel alert for the following bridges connecting Mercer and Bucks counties:
- Trenton-Morrisville (Route 1) Toll Bridge (both directions)
- Scudder Falls (I-95) Bridge (both directions)
- Lower Trenton ("Trenton Makes) Bridge (eastbound)
- Calhoun Street Toll-Supported Bridge (eastbound)
- Washington Crossing Toll-Supported Bridge (eastbound)
Heavy traffic is expected on all five bridges during the morning rush hour this week. Motorists who use any of these bridges are advised to allow extra time to get to their destination during the morning rush hour this week.
Officials say delays and congestion have been especially heavy at the Route 29 exit ramp off Route 1 northbound immediately after the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge.
Motorists on the Pennsylvania Turnpike heading east into New Jersey should use the following detour:
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.
Motorists should also expect slow-moving or stopped traffic in the area, especially in the afternoon and evening hours.
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.
The Pearl Harbor Extension will be closed to westbound traffic while the bridge is closed. Motorists headed to Pennsylvania will need to find an alternate crossing. Alternatives include Interstate 78, Interstate 295, and the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.