The Delaware River Bridge, which runs between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, was shut down indefinitely over the Jan. 22-23 weekend, after a large fracture was discovered in the bridge that connects the turnpikes of the two states. The fracture on a steel truss below the bridge deck on the Pennsylvania side was discovered during a routine check as part of a painting operation. Steel plates were installed to temporarily reconnect the fracture and stabilize the 1.5-mile bridge, which is located in Bucks County on I-276 and accommodates 42,000 vehicles a day. As engineers assess how the damage will impact the entire bridge, a sample from the fractured truss was sent to a forensic lab to determine the cause of the crack. A high-definition video survey is being used to monitor the bridge.
Opened in 1956, the bridge is jointly owned and maintained by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. “Due to the significant fracture, stresses have been redistributed to other parts of the bridge,” commission Chief Engineer Brad Heigel said in a statement. The shutdown “is necessary to properly evaluate the bridge’s current condition and determine next steps to ensure the safety to our customers,” he noted. The damage assessment, expected to take a few weeks, will allow officials to determine how long the permanent repair will take. “This was a unique and complete fracture, which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions,” commission Chairman Sean Logan said in a statement. “We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement.”