Strategic Bridge Connecting N.J. & Pennsylvania Turnpike Closed

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

The bridge that connects the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike is completely closed after a serious structure issue was discovered by an inspection team. The fracture was discovered on the top of an approach span truss on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. It needs to be repaired immediately and it is unknown at this time how long the repair will take.

The 5.7-mile Pearl Harbor Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike, which connects the mainline of the Turnpike to the bridge, will be closed to traffic while the bridge is closed. Motorists headed to Pennsylvania must find an alternate crossing. Alternatives include Interstate 78, Interstate 295, and the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.

Some media outlets are mistakenly reporting this as the much bigger Delaware Memorial Bridge, connecting New Jersey to Delaware. The bridge in question is further north and connects Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Regardless, the bridge is used heavily and the detour will affect everyone.

Contractors were looking at the bridge for an upcoming painting project when they noticed a fracture in a steel tress on the bridge.  The bridge is co-owned by the NJ and PA Turnpike Authorities, and the damage portion lies on the Pennsylvania side.

In 2011, the NJTA and PTC undertook an investigation of the existing suspender system on the main span. Based on destructive testing of suspenders from the similar Newark Bay Bridge, consultants HNTB determined that the Delaware River bridge's suspenders had limited remaining service life and needed to be replaced. At each suspender location, the load from each original 4-inch-diameter (10 cm) wire rope was transferred into a set of four new 2-inch-diameter (5.1 cm) wire ropes, after which the original suspender was cut. 

The bridge opened in 1956 and has an average of 42,000 vehicles daily, and at $5.00 a pop, the loss per day on the low side is at about $210K a day, and officials are meeting to come up with an attack plan in quick fashion. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is a toll highway operated by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. A controlled-access highway, it runs for 360 miles (580 km) across the state. The turnpike begins at the Ohio state line in Lawrence County, where the road continues west into Ohio as the Ohio Turnpike. It ends at the New Jersey border at the Delaware River–Turnpike Toll Bridge over the Delaware River in Bucks County, where it continues east as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike.

Road Warriors that travel this route will need to check detours and add extra time to their trip, (is that even possible?) and see any restrictions that may be logistically applied to you.

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