Coatings Industry News

Main News Page


Crack Shuts Down PA-NJ Turnpike Bridge

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Comment | More

A bridge linking Pennsylvania and New Jersey over the Delaware River will likely remain closed for at least two weeks after an inspection of a painting job uncovered a serious crack in a steel truss.

Crack in Delaware River Turnpike Bridge
Images: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission

The crack appears to completely separate the two portions of the truss, and has caused stress to be redistributed on the span, leaving the bridge in danger.

The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge, which connects Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with Burlington County, New Jersey, via I-276, was closed Friday (Jan. 20) when workers spotted the fracture. The crack appears to completely separate the two portions of the truss, and has caused stress to be redistributed on the span, leaving the bridge in danger.

Stabilization Work

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which operates the bridge jointly with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, reported Saturday (Jan. 21) that stabilization work was underway while engineers analyze the damage and devise a more permanent repair plan. New plates will be added to connect the two pieces of the 14-inch truss.

Location of bridge crack

The crack is reportedly situated on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge, below the westbound right lane.

A sample of the truss has been sent for forensic analysis, the PTC said. The initial analysis and planning will take about two weeks, and after that period, the agencies will be able to give a clearer indication of how long the bridge will be closed, and how long permanent repairs will take.

Bridge History

The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge opened in 1956, and reportedly carries about 42,000 vehicles per day. It is 1.2 miles long, and is part of a stretch of I-295 that connects the New Jersey Turnpike with the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Delaware River Turnpike Bridge

The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge opened in 1956, and reportedly carries about 42,000 vehicles per day.

The fracture was found during what the PTC calls a routine inspection of painting work done by contractors hired by the NJTA. It is reportedly situated on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge, below the westbound right lane.

Painting Job

According to NJTA documents, Allied Painting Inc. has been the lead contractor on a $50.2 million project on the bridge, which began in 2014 and is scheduled for completion in 2018. The project includes blast cleaning, repainting, seismic retrofit, structural steel repairs, catwalk improvement and other work, according to the NJTA’s 2016 Capital Improvement Plan.

Bridge crack

The crack was uncovered during an inspection of painting work performed as part of a four-year project that includes blast cleaning, repainting, seismic retrofit, structural steel repairs, catwalk improvement and other work.

“This was a unique and complete fracture which may have happened quickly due to changing weather conditions,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike Chairman Sean Logan.

“We are stabilizing the bridge now to prevent further movement. 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.”

Editor's note: This story was one of our most popular of 2017, and appeared in our Readers' Choice issue on Dec. 27. The Delaware River Turnpike Bridge was closed for about six weeks while the span was stabilized using a jacking system, then a splice was made to fix the cracked area; it reopened March 9. Turnpike officials said the incident likely resulted from plug welds filling misdrilled holes, exacerbated by weather and oversized truck traffic.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Coating inspection; Infrastructure; North America; Quality Control; Steel; Transportation

Comment from David Kennicutt, (1/24/2017, 7:49 AM)

Have seen this occur on other bridges. In one case errant holes were filled with weld and ground smooth, presumably during initial fabrication.


Comment from David Weidner, (1/24/2017, 9:35 AM)

These must have shown up after painting ?


Comment from Robert Shaw, (1/24/2017, 9:57 AM)

David Kennicutt, you have good eyes. http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20170123_Decades-old_mistake_may_have_caused_bridge_beam_to_fail.html


Comment from MICHAEL DEATON, (1/24/2017, 10:17 AM)

Good catch...we have come across a few stress fractures here and there but nothing to this magnitude. This could've turn catastrophic with a chain reaction of members cracking as they have to endure more weight of the bridge than what they were designed for. It's time to take a long hard look at our infrastructure!


Comment from Tim Monaghan, (1/24/2017, 10:25 AM)

This leads one to think that there may be more stress points to look at over this entire structure. Possibly check traffic and see if an overweight load may have contributed to this failure.


Comment from David Kennicutt, (1/24/2017, 11:26 AM)

In our case the fractured chord occurred during bidding for rehab. We bridged with HS threadbar and we inspected every inch of rest of bottom chord and drilled out any plug welds found. Very poor fatigue detail.


Comment from Stephen Dobrosielski, (1/25/2017, 8:04 AM)

Points to ponder...the fact that the mis-drilled holes were plug welded significantly changed the fatigue classification of the detail. Had the holes just been left in place, the fatigue classification would have been the same as the first line of rivets at the connection a foot to the left of the fracture. The actual tensile stress in the chord member would have been the same as at the riveted cross section.


Comment from Stephen Dobrosielski, (1/25/2017, 8:07 AM)

The real problem to be considered is how many more of these plug welded details exist throughout the bridge. Hope the state or the fabricator has some good accessible records stored for the past 60 plus years.


Comment from Stephen Dobrosielski, (1/25/2017, 8:16 AM)

Last thought to consider (and I am not totally certain of this) ... the bridge was constructed in the 1950s or early 1960s. Sometime in the late 1960s/early 1970s (I believe) a terminology "fracture critical" came into existence. I believe that this specific member would be classified "fracture critical" - in other words failure of the member results in catastrophic failure of the structure and a tension member in a truss would be exactly that. I believe that the rules governing design and fabrication/erection of bridges with fracture critical components are more stringent than normal. The dates are important in this discussion.


Comment from Michael Beitzel, (1/25/2017, 1:49 PM)

It should be thoroughly investigated prior to designing splice repairs whether the entire hole pattern for the connection was misdrilled and if there are other weld filled holes at this and other connections


Comment from M. Halliwell, (1/26/2017, 12:46 PM)

If the split went right through the U-shaped truss (from the 3rd picture), seeing the evidence of filled holes in the 1st picture and the potential for more holes in what is potentially a very critical truss, I'd say replacement of that structural member should be seriously considered. After all, with an overland location, it could be done almost as quickly as the splicing that is being considered (assuming that you don't need to order a replacement truss from overseas).


Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


Advertisements
 
KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

 
Fischer Technology Inc.

 
DeFelsko Corporation

 
SAFE Systems, Inc.

 
NLB Corporation

 
WEFTEC Show

 
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America

 
Safety Lamp of Houston, Inc.

 
HoldTight Solutions Inc.

 
Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@paintsquare.com


The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 
EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About PaintSquare.com   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us