Category Archives: Travel Alerts

Reports of special conditions affecting toll roads for extended periods, particularly weather-related events.

Alligator Alley To Remain Open While Winds Cooperate

Alligator Alley signA dispatcher with the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed this evening there are no plans to close Alligator Alley tonight. Alligator Alley comprises a section of Interstate 75 in Florida, connecting the east coast and west coast at the south end of the peninsula. The trooper told TurnpikeInfo.com that winds had shifted direction, making for more favorable driving conditions.

Smoke from nearby wildfires, in the Everglades, forced the FHP to close Alligator Alley Monday night around 6 p.m. The roadway was open again this morning.

Severe wildfires have forced the closure of Alligator Alley in the past, including a spate of closures in the spring of 2009 that impacted drivers for about a week.

Wildfires Force Closure Of Alligator Alley

Alligator Alley signA dispatcher with the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed this afternoon Alligator Alley in Florida, which connects the east coast and west coast at the south end of the peninsula, will close indefinitely this evening due to wildfires in the Florida Everglades. The trooper was unable to confirm the duration of the closure, and said the situation remained “fluid”.

Alligator Alley has been closed at times in the past due to wildfires. In the spring of 2009, the roadway was closed intermittently for over a week due to extreme smoke and reduced visibility.

The current closure was due to happen around 6 p.m. on Memorial Day, with no word from officials of when the roadway would reopen.

Delaware River Bridge To Remain Closed Two Months

Officials Announce April Reopening, But Only If “Best Case Scenario” Prevails

The Delaware River Bridge, which connects the New Jersey Turnpike and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, is slated to remain closed at least another eight weeks, officials announced Friday. The bridge was shut to civilian traffic on Friday, January 20 when a large crack was discovered in a support truss. The decision to keep the bridge closed was made by a joint engineering task force being co-led by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The agencies jointly own and manage the DRB.

Jacking And Realigning Bridge To Take At Least One Month

Crack in Delaware River Bridge

Weight loads shifted considerably, officials say, when this crack opened in a support truss of the DRB, which has been closed to traffic since January 20, 2017. The bridge now must be realigned before the fracture can be repaired.

That means the next several weeks will be devoted to installing temporary towers and hydraulic jacks to realign the bridge. The groundwork for the jacking towers began last week, authorities said. Steel-pipe pilings are being installed underground, according to officials, that will support 80-foot towers. Those towers will be carefully jacked into position to realign the bridge, but that will not happen until early March, at least, according to authorities.

However, officials admit they do not know whether the rest of the bridge can support a regular traffic flow, and authorities said they will not be able to determine that until the jacking process is completed.

“The goal of the jacking operation is to return the bridge to its original position and allow us to complete a permanent splice of the fracture,” said Brad Heigel, Chief Engineer for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. “As the jacking operation occurs, and load is transferred within the bridge, instrumentation will monitor the actual loads, stresses and displacements, which will be compared to estimated outcomes from computer models.”

Agency Heads Say They Hope For “Best Case Scenario”, But Sound Cautionary Tone

“Under the best case scenario, the bridge will return to its original position and the construction team will be able to install a permanent repair splice on the fractured steel member,” officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority wrote in a prepared statement. “It is possible, however, that the process will reveal the need for a [sic] more complex repairs or possibly even replacement of the entire structure, in which case the closure would last longer.”

“We want to get this bridge reopened to traffic as soon as we are safely able to do so,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Richard T. Hammer. Hammer also serves as chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority board.

“We understand the inconvenience this closure creates for tens of thousands of drivers every day,” he said. “We are working around the clock to get it reopened. But we won’t allow a single car to cross that bridge until we are absolutely certain that it is safe.”

Alternate routes remain in effect for traffic crossing between the two states’ turnpikes. Authorities say the DRB carries an average of 42-thousand vehicles per day across the now-disabled span.

REPAIR TIMETABLE

The PTC announced a tentative repair timetable, which authorities say represents the best case scenario for reopening the bridge to traffic. That timetable is as follows:

Estimated Bridge Repair Timetable

  • Feb. 6 – Install jacking towers.
  • Feb. 13 – Install jacking towers, instrumentation and structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • Feb. 20 – Install instrumentation and structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • Feb. 27 – Install structural reinforcement required for jacking.
  • March 6 – Perform jacking.
  • March 13 – Install permanent repair splice.
  • March 20 – Perform load testing.
  • March 27 – Demobilize jacking towers.


ALTERNATE ROUTES

Eastbound Detour (Pennsylvania to New Jersey)

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. Source: PA Turnpike Commission.

Westbound Detour (New Jersey to Pennsylvania)

NJTP drivers heading west into Pennsylvania will need to use either Interstate 78, Interstate 295, or the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. Source: New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

“Extreme Delays” Likely Between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Authorities Warn

Delaware River Bridge To Be Closed Indefinitely Due To Crack In Structure

Delaware River Bridge

The Delaware River Bridge, linking New Jersey and Pennsylvania drivers, will remain closed indefinitely, officials have announced.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority are, jointly, warning drivers to expect “extreme delays” at crossings over the Delaware River due to the closure of the Delaware River Bridge. The bridge, which connects the New Jersey Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, was closed Friday afternoon after a painting crew found a large crack in a support truss.

Officials with each state office were asking drivers to consider using public transit or carpooling to help reduce congestion. Authorities also have suggested people consider adjusting their work schedules, for those who can do so, or consider working from home, known in the tech world as telecommuting.

Updated Detours From State Officials In Pennsylvania And New Jersey

Meanwhile, authorities in both states listed an updated detour list, given the DRB is likely to remain closed for weeks to come. Essentially, drivers heading to New Jersey will be detoured off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Exit 351, although local traffic will be permitted to access Exit 358, authorities with the PA Turnpike Commission announced. Meanwhile, drivers heading to Pennsylvania will be detoured off the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 7A.

The full set of detours released by the states’ respective commissions is as follows:

  • Motorists heading to New Jersey will be detoured at PA Turnpike Exit 351 to Route 1 northbound to I-95 northbound, which becomes I-295 southbound in New Jersey, to I-195 eastbound to the New Jersey Turnpike. PA Turnpike Exit #358, Delaware Valley, will remain open for local traffic only; watch out for a single-lane pattern approaching Delaware Valley.
  • Motorists heading to Pennsylvania will be detoured at New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 7A to I-195 westbound to I-295 northbound, which becomes I-95 southbound; or from New Jersey Turnpike Interchange 5 to Mount Holly Road. Motorists traveling from northern New Jersey are advised to exit at Interchange 14 and use I-78 west into Pennsylvania.

Bridge Analysis To Take Several Weeks

Crack in Delaware River Bridge

The Culprit: This fracture, discovered by a painting crew Friday, January 20, forced the closure of the Delaware River Bridge. Officials said an analysis of the bridge’s structure will take several weeks. Until that is completed, at the very least, the bridge will remain closed. Photo: PA Turnpike Commission.

Engineers and construction crews worked through the weekend to stabilize the bridge at the site of the fracture; however, officials announced Saturday that a structural analysis of the bridge would take several weeks. “A comprehensive bridge analysis will be performed to better understand the global impact the fracture has had on the entire bridge,” authorities announced in a news release. “Information gathered is critical to determine the scope of and strategy for a permanent repair and reopening the bridge to traffic.”

“Unfortunately, at a minimum, the bridge will remain closed for several weeks,” said New Jersey Turnpike Authority Executive Director Joseph W. Mrozek in a written statement. “We will not be able to reopen it until we are absolutely certain it is safe. All of the agencies and contractors involved will be working urgently to make that happen as quickly as possible.”

The bridge has been undergoing a $61-million rehabilitation since 2012, according to officials, with in-depth inspections of the structure every two years. The $400-thousand cost is shared between the PTC and the NJTA, although the New Jersey Turnpike Authority manages the contract.

Sean Logan, chairman of the PA Turnpike Commission, said the most likely cause of the crack was rapidly-changing weather conditions, but that a complete analysis was prudent and necessary, aside simply assessing the fracture’s impact on the bridge.

“We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement,” Logan wrote. “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 four-lane bridge opened in 1956 and carries about 42,000 vehicles per day across the Delaware River.

 

Pennsylvania Turnpike To Close Overnight

Overnight Closures To Accommodate New Construction

PA Turnpike - I276The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced late Friday they would be closing I-276, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, for six hours the morning of Saturday, January 14, and Sunday, January 15, from 12:01 a.m. until 6 a.m. between Exit 351 and Exit 358. Officials stated the closures were necessary for construction workers to safely install new bridge supports and beams on a bridge at mile marker 356.6.

Authorities at the PA Turnpike Commission said they had marked alternate driving routes for eastbound and westbound travel, and officials said in a written release that state police and turnpike personnel would be directing traffic through the weekend’s overnight closures.

For drivers, the following detours will apply:

Eastbound Detour

Take U.S. Route 1 south to State Route 132 east, to U.S. Route 13 north. Reenter the Turnpike at the Delaware Valley Interchange, Exit 358.

Westbound Detour

Take U.S. Route 13 south to State Route 132 west to U.S. Route 1 north. Reenter the Turnpike at the Bensalem Interchange, Exit 351.

Service Plazas Opened On Florida’s Turnpike

Gas Stations Operational And Food Available

Tolls Remain Suspended Until At Least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9

The service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike are all operational in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, according to a staff member at the Turkey Lake service plaza. The plazas had been closed as the storm roiled offshore Thursday and Friday, sending wave upon wave of feeder bands across the peninusla. The Florida Department of Transportation, under orders from the governor’s office, had closed all plazas in order to protect staff.

The plazas began reopening in South Florida Friday afternoon, and all are now operational, with the threat of Matthew now passed.

Meanwhile, tolls remain suspended across Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll facilities, including Orlando’s toll roads and those in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. While the free ride may be saving money, traffic congestion is occasionally up at some toll plazas, where officials are directing traffic into just a few lanes. The governor’s office released a statement late Sunday afternoon stating tolls would remain suspended until at least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9. However, regional tolling agencies were reviewing their toll status on a county by county basis.

Leesburg Toll Plaza

A southbound view of the Leesburg toll plaza on October 9, 2016, as drivers are pushed to the left-most lanes to accommodate toll suspensions. It was unclear Sunday when tolls would be reinstated on the Florida’s Turnpike. Image from Florida Department of Transportation.

Elsewhere, officials will be examining constructions sites in the coming days on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads to determine whether it is safe to resume maintenance and new construction operations. When that process is complete, construction restrictions will resume.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to include the governor’s office’s latest statement on the status of tolls on Florida’s Turnpike.

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida’s Turnpike

Governor Surveys Damage From Hurricane Matthew

No Statement Issued About Service Plazas Reopening As Gas Supplies Disrupted

Governor Rick Scott presser in Volusia County

Governor Rick Scott briefs media this morning in Volusia County.

Tolls remain suspended this afternoon on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads, including those in metropolitan Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The service plazas on the turnpike remain closed in the most heavily-damaged areas, with only South Florida’s service plazas operational late Saturday afternoon.

As Hurricane Matthew weakens off the coast of the Carolinas, it remains unclear how quickly service plazas will reopen. This could be trouble for drivers who normally depend upon the fuel and other services provided at plazas. Fuel supplies at retail locations at various exits are likely to suffer some, as ports across the northeastern coast have been shut down due to Matthew.

The governor’s office, in its regular written afternoon briefing, said those ports are beginning to reopen. The governor’s office also assured residents and tourists officials were closely monitoring supply chain and distribution channels. “The state is monitoring for supply, distribution or retail fuel shortages or issues, specifically for isolated incidents of individual retailers experiencing temporary fuel shortages,” the governor’s press office wrote. “These individual retailers are being quickly refueled, and fuel is readily available across Florida.”

Officials at the Florida Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for further information about the service plazas or tolling.

 

Florida Governor Tours Cities Ravaged By Matthew

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida Toll Roads, Including Florida’s Turnpike

Some Service Plazas Reopened In South Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott tours Cocoa after Hurricane Matthew

Florida Governor Rick Scott is accompanied by local and state law enforcement and national guard troops as he tours Cocoa, one of the towns impacted by Hurricane Matthew’s tango with Florida’s east coast.

Florida Governor Rick Scott toured storm-ravaged cities and counties in Florida this afternoon as the damage assessments following Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the state began in earnest. The governor met by telephone with mayors of dozens of cities this morning and again this afternoon, also paying personal visits to coastal communities, including the town of Cocoa, which is at the eastern terminus of the Beachline Expressway.

Tolls on the Beachline Expressway and all other regional toll roads, as well as Florida’s Turnpike, remain suspended this evening, the governor’s office announced in a statement released early Friday night. Some county tolling facilities may reinstate tolls as early as Saturday as officials examine the potential for putting toll workers back on the road. “All toll suspensions remain in effect and will remain suspended for at least 24 hours,” the statement read. “After the storm passes, county DOT officials will review this on a case by case basis.”

Meanwhile, three service plazas on the Florida’s Turnpike reopened in South Florida earlier in the day Friday, after conditions borne of the monster hurricane had largely passed from the region. Engineering assessments determined none of the buildings had suffered any structural damage that could be potentially harmful or life-threatening. All services plazas from West Palm Beach and south were open Friday night. Service plazas north of West Palm Beach remain closed, including two in the metro Orlando area, the Canoe Creek and Turkey Lake plazas.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-07 8PM EDT

As for Hurricane Matthew, itself, the storm has been downgraded to a powerful category 2 system, which is sending strong storm surges and high winds across the very northeastern edge of Florida and across coastal Georgia. The storm is expected to turn east into the Atlantic over the weekend, then turn south once more to head toward the Bahamas for a second time.

Geothals Bridge Closing Friday Night, October 7

Goethals BridgeThe Goethals Bridge between New Jersey and Staten Island will be closing tonight at 10 p.m., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced. The closure begins Friday night, October 7, at 10 p.m. and continues through Saturday morning, to 8 a.m.

Officials have opened the Bayonne Bridge for the duration of the Columbus Day weekend, and the Outerbridge Crossing, to the south, is an alternate route.

South Florida Service Plazas Reopen On Florida’s Turnpike

Florida's TurnpikeThe Florida Highway Patrol is reporting at this hour that three service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike have reopened. With Hurricane Matthew’s influence significantly diminished in the South Florida area, officials have reopened the Snapper Creek Service Plaza on the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike. The Pompano Beach Service Plaza and the West Palm Beach Service Plaza are also reopened at this time.

Authorities originally closed the plazas in stages Thursday afternoon. The remaining plazas, all of which are in areas still being whipped by Hurricane Matthew, will be closed until after the storm passes and engineers have determined the buildings are structurally safe.