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Truss failure shuts US bridge 'indefinitely'

Delaware River Turnpike Bridge

Engineers are undertaking stabilisation works after facture was discovered on a 360mm truss member on an interstate route bridge which carries 42,000 vehicles per day.

The 2km long Delaware River Turnpike Bridge was shut ten days ago when the damage was noticed by an engineer during a routine check of a bridge-painting project.

Engineers have built foundations for eight temporary 24m jacking towers to support the bridge, while the damaged sections have been cut out and sent for testing and analysis.

drb foundations

Delaware River Bridge foundations

Source: PA Turnpike

Laying foundations for the eight towers.

The bridge goes over the Delaware River and connects New Jersey and Pennsylvania Turnpikes. It is currently closed indefinitely.

The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA), which jointly own and maintain the bridge, say they will be announcing the permanent repair solution in the next few days.

Delaware bridge

Delaware bridge

Source: PA Turnpike

PA Turnpike chairman Sean Logan said: “Out of an abundance of caution and to protect traveler safety, we are stabilising [the bridge], the bridge must remain closed until a full-scale analysis and repair plan have been completed.”

Independent bridge consultant Simon Bourne said: “It’s a scary failure - most failures are either during construction or related to details and/or connections, whereas this failure seems to be directly across a main member. It is very rare for main members to fail, especially after such a long time in service.”

Fractured truss

Fractured truss

Source: PA Turnpike

“Assuming that it appears not to have been an overload or over stress, I can only suggest that it must be related to a hidden defect in the main body of the steelwork, which has initiated a fatigue crack or a brittle fracture failure.

”One would really need to assess the failure surface of the steelwork, which they say has been removed for more detailed inspection.”

Previously the suspender system on the main span was replaced after consultants said it had a limited lifespan.


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