Delaware Probing Tilting Bridge Clogging Interstate 95Romy Varghese
Delaware’s Transportation Department has installed tilt sensors on a bridge along Interstate 495 in Wilmington as it investigates damage that led the agency to divert traffic along the East Coast’s main highway corridor.
Data from the monitors installed to detect additional movements are being evaluated today, said Sandy Roumillat, a spokeswoman for the agency. The bridge is closed indefinitely, she said.
The state shut the bridge on the evening of June 2 after an inspection showed four of the 37 pairs of vertical support columns had shifted as much as 4 percent out of alignment, the Transportation Department said in a statement.
Cars and trucks are being channeled onto Interstate 95 through downtown Wilmington, causing delays along the artery that runs from Maine to Florida.
“We’re asking people to expect heavier traffic,” Roumillat said.
About 90,000 vehicles traveled over the bridge daily, said Jim Lardear, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
“That volume is hitting I-95 and alternate routes,” he said.
Traffic on southbound I-95 in Pennsylvania backed up more than five miles from the Delaware line around 7:45 a.m. today before easing to about two miles later in the morning, said Gene Blaum, a spokesman for Pennsylvania’s Transportation Department.
That was better than the seven-mile backup seen yesterday morning, he said.
“There’s going to be a period of adjustment,” Blaum said. “We’ll see patterns changing.”
Pennsylvania officials are posting highway messages to warn motorists of the closing, and Delaware officials are adjusting signal timings to ease traffic on the detours.
The 4,800-foot (1,463 meter) bridge, built in 1974, was last inspected in October 2012 and showed no deficiencies, according to the Delaware agency’s statement.