Category Archives: Turnpikes and Toll Roads

Turnpike and toll road news for all states

New Orlando Toll Pass Covers Nearly Entire U.S. East Coast

Orlando’s Central Florida Expressway Authority Unveils Interstate Pass

First New Toll Pass To Work Across Florida As Well As East and Midwest USA

Orlando’s Central Florida Expressway Authority announced today the availability of the Florida’s first new toll pass to be compatible on CFX roadways, other Florida toll roads, and, crucially, nearly all toll roads across the East Coast, New England and Midwest United States. Today’s announcement comes less that three months after CFX began accepting E-ZPass on Orlando-area toll roads. Until now, only North Carolina’s QuickPass was compatible with both E-ZPass and Sunpass.

In a written news release today, Brian Hutchings, spokesman for CFX, wrote that E-Pass Xtra is the “CFX response to the Moving Ahead for Progress in 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which requires all U.S. highway toll facilities to adopt interoperable technologies or best practices so drivers can travel across toll roads without the need to change transponders or open new accounts.”

E-Pass Xtra coverage map

Graphic: Central Florida Expressway Authority

MAP-21 was passed as part of the U.S. Congress’ 2012 highway authorization bill, and it required states across the country to introduce compatible technologies no later than October 2016. No funding authorization accompanied the mandate, but there was also no enforcement provision, and most states did not meet the deadline.

Florida Drivers Get First Interstate Transponder Option

The availability of the E-Pass Xtra  gives Florida drivers their first option for acquiring a toll pass that will be compatible with E-ZPass systems across the East Coast and Midwest, as well as the QuickPass and PeachPass systems in North Carolina and Georgia, respectively. SunPass, issued by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, is currently not compatible on roads outside the Lower Atlantic region.

E-ZPass, IPass Still Only Work In Orlando

While Florida drivers now have an interstate toll pass option, drivers using E-ZPass, RiverLink or IPass will still only be able to use their transponders on Orlando roads, unless they purchase the E-Pass Extra, themselves.

There is also the option to use Florida’s Sunpass, but that transponder is compatible only in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. While Sunpass has been negotiating since at least 2016 to achieve interstate toll compatibility, no new date for compatibility has been announced. Previously-announced target dates in 2017 were missed on at least two occasions.

E-Pass Xtra transponder unit

Photo: Central Florida Expressway Authority

The new E-Pass Xtra unit is currently available only as a portable transponder unit, according to CFX, and can be acquired by visiting the CFX website to purchase a transponder unit or by visiting EPASSXtra.com. The unit, pictured here in a CFX photo, includes both the E-Pass and the E-ZPass logos.

The new pass will cost drivers $18.50 to purchase, and CFX will require a minimum balance of $10.00 once an account is opened.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported the E-Pass Xtra was the nation’s first new toll pass to be compatible with Florida roads and much of the East Coast and Midwest. E-Pass Xtra is, in fact, Florida’s first new toll pass with such compatibility.

Florida’s E-ZPass Compatibility Not Easy To Understand

Dueling Agencies Mark Their Territory, Confusing Drivers

Some Florida toll roads will begin accepting the E-ZPass toll transponders starting Saturday, September 1, 2018, the Central Florida Expressway Authority announced this summer. That date comes nearly a near after CFX, which operates the bulk of the toll roads in the Orlando metropolitan area, originally announced E-ZPass compatibility, in November 2017. The original compatibility date of April 2018 was twice delayed, primarily due to administrative issues surrounding collections and remitting of payments, said Brian Hutchings, CFX spokesman. The technology to read the E-ZPass, he said, has been in place for well over a year.

Roadways And Interchanges Only Partly Compatible

However, using E-ZPass in Florida will be tricky, at best, because the compatibility only extends to the Orlando metropolitan area. Even on roads where the E-ZPass will be accepted, key interchanges and roadways will not be compatible with E-ZPass. Adding to the confusion is the reality that sections of some roads will be incompatible, while other sections of the same road will be compatible with E-ZPass.

More confusing, still, is that some interchanges, themselves, will also be only partially compatible. That means drivers can use one set of entrance or exit ramps with their E-ZPass, but not another set of ramps within the same interchange. The compatibility issues are detailed in a compatibility map CFX released earlier this month in an effort to ameliorate confusion.

At one key interchange, where Florida’s Turnpike meets up with the Central Florida Greeneway (State Road 417), ramps from the Central Florida Greeneway to Florida’s Turnpike will not accept E-ZPass, unless you happen to be traveling south on 417 and want to go south on Florida’s Turnpike. If you are traveling northbound on Florida’s Turnpike and want to go north on the Central Florida Greeneway, your E-ZPass will work in that direction, too. But E-ZPass is not accepted on the other ramps of the same interchange. Florida’s Turnpike is operated by Florida’s Department of Transportation, and the Central Florida GreeneWay is partially operated by CFX and, in part, by FDOT.

CFX E-ZPass compatibility map

CFX released the official E-ZPass compatibility map in August 2018, which shows key interchanges, including I-95 and the Beachline Expressway, as well as Florida’s Turnpike at SR 417, are either not compatible with E-ZPass or only partly compatible.

Florida DOT Lacks E-ZPass Agreement

It is a problem, Hutchings admits, the CFX simply can not overcome without help from the state of Florida, which co-operates many key roadways with the CFX, including the Western Beltway, the Beachline Expressway, the Central Florida GreeneWay, and even the smallest segment of the Holland East-West Expressway that connects with Florida’s Turnpike. Thus, the compatibility issues, because Florida has yet to reach an operating agreement with the E-ZPass Group, the governing body for the nation’s largest electronic toll collection network.

Florida had been on the cusp of such an agreement, in part, in early 2017, said Chad Huff, spokesman for Florida’s DOT. The state was on track to begin accepting the I-Pass transponder, used in Illinois but a part of the E-ZPass network. It would have been a first step toward Florida accepting all E-ZPass transponders. However, a series of unspecified issues has delayed implementation for more than 18 months, so far.

A Florida DOT CCTV view of SR 91 at SR 417

This interchange of Florida’s Turnpike and the Central Florida GreeneWay is one example of a junction that is only partly compatible with E-ZPass. Drivers traveling north on Florida’s Turnpike who want to go north on the GreeneWay may use their E-ZPass, but drivers leaving the GreeneWay to go north on the turnpike may not.

Essentially, that means visitors to Florida who are using an E-ZPass will only be able to drive portions of Orlando’s toll roads using their transponders. Main roads, like Florida’s Turnpike, itself, will not be compatible with E-ZPass at all. For roads where E-ZPass is accepted, if a driver passes the wrong mile marker, they will incur a toll violation, unless they have the cash to pay for the toll. The only other option is to buy a SunPass, which is Florida’s toll transponder, but using both transponders, together, can often lead to duplicate charges, as the CFX roads also accept SunPass.

E-Pass Not Compatible With E-ZPass

Another issue, particularly for local drivers in the Orlando area, is that the CFX toll transponder, E-Pass, will not work on E-ZPass roads, even though the E-ZPass will work on some roads in Florida. Again, Hutchings said it is an administrative issue, not a technological one, that has created the snags, a sentiment shared by Florida’s DOT, Huff told TurnpikeInfo.com.

Florida’s DOT, Huff said, had the technology to read E-ZPass transponders and their data in place in 2017. The problem is in reaching the interoperability agreements with the various agencies of the E-ZPass network.

“Developing compatible business rules across agencies takes significant amounts of time,” Huff wrote in an email to TurnpikeInfo.com. “SunPass and the other Florida brands use the same technology and worked out business rules as electronic tolling was being introduced.”

As of this writing, Florida DOT did not have an update of when E-ZPass may be accepted on other Florida toll roads, outside the Orlando metropolitan area.

DOWNLOAD CFX COMPATIBILITY MAP

Editor’s note: The original version of this story misidentified the E-ZPass Group as the E-ZPass Interoperability Group.

‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Irma Threatens Florida East Coast

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:26 p.m., Wednesday, September 6, in order to reflect the latest forecast and evacuation data.

Mandatory Evacuations Ordered For Coastal Residents

Hurricane Irma forecast track.

The projected track of Hurricane Irma, as issued by the National Hurricane Center at 11 p.m. Wednesday. Graphic: NOAA.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Hurricane Irma now threatens the Florida east coast, according to the National Hurricane Center, and forecasters announced they would likely begin issuing hurricane watches for the Florida peninsula on Thursday. The system will impact South Florida, and  Florida’s Turnpike, by as early as Friday evening, and to forecasters say the massive category 5 storm could inflict ‘catastrophic’ wind and rain damage to affected areas into early next week.

The storm moved over the eastern Leeward Islands overnight Wednesday morning, making landfall on the British Virgin Islands, and dealing a blow to Puerto Rico, shortly thereafter. The storm is expected to continue to barrel its way on a west-northwesterly trek through the Caribbean through the next two to three days.

Hurricane Irma's projected wind field

The forecast wind field impact timeline for Hurricane Irma, through Sunday. Whether the storm remains off shore or strikes the peninsula, it will have a significant impact on South Florida, forecasters say. Graphic: NOAA.

The problem for Florida comes this weekend, and particularly Sunday evening into Monday morning, when the storm is expected to slip to the west of a high pressure ridge, allowing Irma to turn to the north. Forecasters do not have a firm handle on precisely where the turn will happen. If Irma turns sooner, rather than later, the eye wall would remain offshore of Florida’s peninsula. However, the massive storm, which has winds extending out 175 miles from its center, is expected to impact Florida’s east coast, whether off shore or not. That means regardless of whether the storm makes landfall, its impact will be unavoidable.

Evacuations Ordered For Florida Keys And Florida Peninsula

That forecast, and the storm’s potential for a life-threatening impact, have forced officials across South Florida to issue mandatory evacuation orders. Visitors in the Florida Keys were ordered to evacuate beginning Wednesday morning, and residents went under a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night.

Residents of low-lying and flood-prone areas of Broward County, which includes areas of Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale’s beaches, also are under a mandatory evacuation order beginning Thursday. Miami-Dade County issued evacuation orders later on Wednesday for much of its barrier islands, which includes Miami Beach.

Tolls Suspended On Florida Roads As Evacuation Traffic Builds

Meanwhile, tolls were suspended Tuesday afternoon for all Florida toll roads and bridges. Governor Rick Scott issued the order around 3:30 p.m., saying the move was necessary to help residents and visitors easily evacuate if necessary.

The Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike, which runs through Miami-Dade County, was already showing heavy traffic at its south end, in Florida City and Homestead, where residents and visitors fleeing the Florida Keys will connect with the roadway to evacuate.

Chad Huff, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, said officials had not made a decision to change the traffic pattern on the turnpike, although that contingency does exist to aid evacuation. However, he could offer no timeline on when any decision to change the traffic flow would be made.

Hurricane Irma Forces Florida Evacuations

Tolls Suspended Across Florida’s Turnpike, Other Toll Roads

Fort Lauderdale – Tolls on Florida’s Turnpike, and all toll roads in the Sunshine State, have been suspended as Hurricane Irma makes its approach through the Caribbean. Governor Rick Scott made the announcement mid-afternoon Tuesday, saying the suspension of tolls will make it easier for Floridians and visitors to “more easily be able to prepare for any potential storm impacts … and quickly and safely evacuate when necessary.”

Pompano Service Plaza gas station

Workers at service plaza gas stations in South Florida, including the Shell at the Pompano Beach Plaza, pictured here in a 2016 file photo, reported plenty of fuel available, with no expected interruption in the delivery of new supplies.

Hurricane Irma has blown up into a super hurricane, with winds of 185 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in MIami. That makes Irma the second-most powerful storm in history, only behind Hurricane Allen, which struck the Caribbean in 1980. At one point, Allen had winds of 190 miles per hour.

Hurricane Irma forecast track

Hurricane Irma’s forecast track, from the National Hurricane Center, issued at 5 p.m. on September 5.

For its part, Hurricane Irma is due to strike the northern Leeward Islands, east of Puerto Rico, tonight, and Puerto Rico, itself, on Wednesday. South Florida and the Florida Keys are currently in the forecast “cone”, or the projected path of the storm, which includes a margin of error. But Key West currently has a target on it, as the NHC forecast takes the storm’s path nearly directly over the island by Sunday.

Evacuation Orders Planned Wednesday In South Florida

That forecast track has forced officials set planned mandatory evacuations of the Keys beginning on Wednesday for visitors and residents, although the precise time of Wednesday’s expected evacuation order had not been determined.

Government offices in Miami-Dade County, along with schools, will be closed on Thursday and Friday so residents may prepare for the storm or evacuate. All school and park activities were also suspended. However, county officials had not yet issued any evacuation orders.

In Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, location of the home office of TurnpikeInfo.com, government emergency operations centers were activated, but no evacuation orders had yet been issued as of Tuesday evening.

Elsewhere, traffic on Florida’s Turnpike appeared light in most areas, and gas stations at service plazas in South Florida reported fuel available at both the Snapper Creek Service Plaza in Miami-Dade and the Pompano Beach Service Plaza in Broward County.

Florida’s Turnpike Opens New Interchange

Minneola And Clermont Gain New Access To Sunshine State Parkway

A new interchange is slated to open June 10 on the northern leg of Florida’s Turnpike near mile 278, officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have announced. The new “Minneola Interchange” is already a common site for regular drivers of the turnpike, as lane closures and adjustments have been made over the past year to accommodate construction of the new ramps. The exit number will be 278.

Minneola Interchange, looking west on Hancock Road

An aerial view of the Minneola Interchange on Florida’s Turnpike, taken in March 2017, looking west over the turnpike along Hancock Road. Photo: Florida DOT.

The interchange will be an all-electronic one, which is to say no cash will be accepted at the tolls, which will be collected only on the southbound entrance and northbound exit ramps. Florida’s Turnpike is in the process of converting to an all-electronic system, but completion is still several years away.

The junction will give nearly direct access to the town of Minneola, which sits just west of the turnpike, and north of Clermont, a western suburb of Orlando. Drivers exiting the turnpike will find themselves on Hancock Road in Minneola, with access to Hancock Road, which is being completed to connect towns on the north and east of the turnpike, on the west shore of Lake Apopka, to those on the south and west, including Minneola and Clermont.

The opening of the interchange will be heralded locally with a community celebration by the city of Minneola, as well as a 5K run to honor Christa Deason, and FDOT employee city officials say was instrumental in bringing the interchange project to fruition. Following the run, the ribbon-cutton for the new interchange is expected to happen around 9:30 a.m., at which time the ramps will be opened for traffic.

A satellite view of the new Minneola Interchange, from Google Earth, taken on March 17, 2017, shows the entrance and exit ramps nearly complete, with the electronic toll gantries already installed on the northbound exit ramp and southbound entrance ramp. Photo: Google Earth.

The cost of the project was funded in part by private developers, including Family Dynamics Land Company, LLC, which donated all the land for the project, and Minneola Mountain Properties Community Redevelopment Area, which raised funds for the construction of the interchange, itself, according to the FDOT.

The completion of Hancock Road, which was an integral part of the interchange project, was funded by both Family Dynamics and by the government of Lake County, where the interchange is located.

“Monumental” Interchange Project Moves Forward As First New Ramp Opens

New Innovation Way Interchange Replacing Monument Parkway Junction East Of Orlando

New onramp for Beachline Expressway in Florida

The Beachline Expressway begins getting a replacement interchange this weekend as authorities open the first ramp of the new Innovation Parkway junction.

The first ramp of a revised interchange system on Florida’s Beachline Expressway will open Friday, March 31, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has announced. The new ramp will route traffic directly from the southbound lanes of Innovation Way to the westbound lanes of the State Road 528, which is the Beachline.

“Motorists traveling south on Innovation Way will be able to access the new ramp directly instead of following the existing configuration through Monument Parkway,” officials announced in a written release. Authorities said the old southbound ramp, from Monument Parkway, will close as the new ramp opens this weekend. Monument Parkway becomes International Corporate Park Boulevard south of the Beachline Expressway.

The Innovation Way interchange, about nine miles east of Orlando International Airport, will replace the Monument Parkway/ICP interchange completely by early 2018. The interchange is being updated to accommodate new development in the area, which includes a new intrastate commuter rail system, All Aboard Florida.

Detour signs will be available to guide drivers on Monument Parkway, officials said. “Motorists traveling on Monument Parkway and ICP Boulevard will be directed to head north to Innovation Way to access the new ramp,” officials wrote.

Florida’s Turnpike Closing Overnight For One Week

North Section Of Turnpike Being Modified To Accommodate More Traffic

A five-mile stretch of Florida’s Turnpike will be closing overnight starting Monday, March 13, 2017 and continuing through Friday, March 17, 2017, officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have announced. The closures will be in effect for a four-hour period each morning, from about 12:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m., authorities said in a written release.

The closures are necessary, officials said, to accommodate road-widening and resurfacing along that stretch of the Turnpike, through Wildwood. Additional improvements will also improve traffic flow at the I-75 interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, officials announced.

Detours During Turnpike Closure

Path of detour on Florida's Turnpike
Drivers who want to get onto Florida’s Turnpike southbound from I-75 will have to exit I-75 at Florida’s State Road 44, then travel east to U.S. 301. From U.S. 301, drivers can travel southbound to the entrance of Florida’s Turnpike.

Drivers who are traveling north on Florida’s Turnpike will follow the same detour, but in the opposite direction. Drivers will be detoured off the turnpike at Exit 304, then turned north on U.S. 301 to Florida State Road 44. Drivers will then be detoured west on SR 44 to I-75.

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.

 

Delaware River Bridge Closed Due To Structural Crack

Pennsylvania Turnpike Traffic Rerouted at East Terminus

Drivers On New Jersey Turnpike’s Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension Also Impacted

Crack in Delaware River BridgeThe Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and New Jersey Turnpike Authority have announced the Delaware River Bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey will remain closed for as long as two weeks, and perhaps longer, while a structural assessment is performed on the span, the commission announced late Saturday.  Both agencies, which jointly own and maintain the span, decided to close the bridge Friday after a crack was discovered in one of the bridge trusses. New Jersey Turnpike officials closed the westbound lanes of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension, as well, which connects the mainline of the NJ Turnpike to the DRB.

Stabilization work continues to enhance the structure of the bridge; however, authorities announced Saturday, in a written news release, a full assessment must be completed to determine how the truss defect has impacted the remainder of the bridge structure. “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.”

Site of crack on Delaware River Bridge

Location of the crack on The Delaware River Bridge, which connects the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike. Officials closed the bridge Friday, January 20, after a crack was discovered in the span. It will remain closed at least two weeks, officials announced Saturday. Photo: PA Turnpike Commission.

Authorities said the two-week assessment may take longer, depending on what authorities are able to learn. “Until more is understood about the damage, it is not possible to estimate how many days or weeks the bridge will need to be closed while the permanent fix is made,” officials wrote.

Officials with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority released an advisory that notified media and the public the repair of the structure will involve the construction of eight towers to help temporarily support the weight of the bridge. “Jacks will be used to attempt to lift the structure back into its original position,” the NJ Turnpike Authority announced in its advisory. “Sensors will be installed to enable engineers to monitor the load at key points on the structure.”

The fracture was discovered on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River Bridge during a routine check of the span by a painting crew on Friday.

The 1.2-mile span opened in 1956. About 42-thousand vehicles cross the span each day, according to officials with the agencies.

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.