BRISTOL, Pa. (CBS) — Officials from the PA Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Thursday night confirmed the Delaware River Turnpike is now open.
The 1.25-mile-long bridge, which carries traffic between the two states, closed after a fracture was discovered beneath the westbound lanes on the Pennsylvania side in Bristol Township.
The re-opening of the bridge is a huge relief for the 42,000 drivers who used the bridge every day and were forced to find a detour when officials closed the bridge on Jan. 20.
“Many people were greatly inconvenienced by this closure over the last seven weeks, and I know that everyone is excited to get this bridge reopened and to see their lives return to normal,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Without a doubt, this incident was a bad dream for the two turnpike agencies and the contractors and consultants on our team, but a nightmare for customers and neighbors.”
For the past seven weeks, crews worked to make repairs. Engineers constructed eight 80-foot towers which supported the bridge as work was completed.
“We pledged to reopen the bridge as soon as we could do so safely,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Richard T. Hammer, who serves as chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority board. “Thanks to a round-the-clock effort involving dozens of engineers, contractors, scientists, and other workers, we are able to get that done much sooner than we expected with every confidence that it will be safe for the motorists who depend on it.”
PA Turnpike Chief Engineer Brad Heigel confirmed two mis-drilled holes — each approximately one inch in diameter and filled with weld material — were identified as the primary factors that contributed to the fracture. But bridge experts agree it was certainly not the only trigger.
However, officials say an exact cause will likely never be determined.