The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today, Aug. 14, a portion of Interstate 78 in Berks County will be closed and detoured this weekend. The closure is necessary to allow workers to remove part of the Airport Road Bridge over I-78 in Bethel Township, Berks County.
The beams on the bridge were struck this past weekend by a truck hauling a large piece of construction equipment, causing irreparable damage to the structure making it necessary to close it and remove the central span.
Starting tomorrow (Aug. 15) at approximately 11 p.m., I-78 will be completely closed between exits 13 (PA 501) and 16 (Midway) for approximately 15 hours while six overhead beams are removed. During this temporary closure I-78 east traffic will follow the marked Green Arrow Detour, and I-78 west traffic will follow the marked Orange Arrow Detour. Motorists are advised to expect significant delays and use extreme caution driving through the area.
“We understand this will cause traffic delays, but for the safety of the motoring public it is necessary to completely close the highway,” District Bridge Engineer Christopher J. Kufro said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience.”
Single lane conditions currently exist on I-78 east and west between exits 13 (PA 501) and 15 (Grimes) and will remain in place until the highway is closed tomorrow night, Aug. 15, for the removal of the beams. After the beams are removed all lanes will be opened on I-78 in this area.
The Airport Road Bridge was closed this past Saturday, Aug. 9, due to the beam damage. Airport Road will remain closed indefinitely between Old Route 22 and Schubert Road. Airport Road traffic is advised to seek alternate routes.
Design work has begun for a new Airport Road Bridge over I-78. The design is estimated to be complete in two-to-three years, at which time a construction contract will be put out for bids.
The bridge is a three-span, adjacent box beam bridge that was built in 1959. It is 33.5 feet wide and 177 feet long with a vertical clearance of 14 feet two inches.
The bridge was reduced to a single lane in September 2002 when two of the bridge’s eight beams were removed as a result of being hit by a truck.
Follow local PennDOT information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/511PAAllentown.