HARRISBURG, Pa. - Bridges that carry Route 22 over Interstate 81 in Harrisburg, as well as the interstate in both directions beneath those bridges, remain closed more than 24 hours after a fiery tanker crash the occurred early Thursday morning.
The accident occurred on the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322. I-81 in the vicinity of its Exit 67 interchange is expected to remain closed for several days.
"One bridge has been seriously damaged, is no longer safe, and the spans over both northbound and southbound I-81 will be demolished and removed," said a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
"Prep work started last evening and demolition should start today. This work is expected to take a few days to complete before it is safe to allow traffic underneath on I-81. The contractor hired for this assignment is working around-the-clock to remove the bridge to enable PennDOT to reopen I-81 as soon as possible."
The tanker truck overturned and caught fire on the ramp from northbound I-81 to westbound Route 22/322. The deck was destroyed and must be replaced. Plans are to remove the deck of the bridge span over I-81 during the next few days. It also may be necessary to remove the entire superstructure of the bridge, including the beams. Traffic will not be allowed on I-81 under that bridge is removed.
A detailed advisory on traffic impacts throughout the Harrisburg area was released Friday morning by PennDOT :
* For motorists traveling south on I-81 from outside the Harrisburg area, southbound I-81 is closed at Exit 70 in Dauphin County and motorists are detoured by way of southbound Interstate 83 on the Capital Beltway to westbound Route 581 back to southbound I-81 in Cumberland County.
* For motorists approaching the Harrisburg area on northbound I-81, northbound I-81 is currently closed at Exit 59 in Cumberland County and motorists are detoured by way of eastbound Route 581 on the Capital Beltway to northbound I-83 back to northbound I-81 in Dauphin County.
* An alternative for motorists around the I-81 closure is Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76). Tolls will be waived only for a trip between between the Carlisle interchange (Exit 226) and the Harrisburg East interchange just south of Harrisburg (Exit 247). The toll waiver is restricted to the Harrisburg East and Carlisle interchanges to avoid exacerbating congestion on Interstate 83 and State Route 15. The waiver of tolls will be in place until Interstate I-81 reopens, likely on May 13.
* Westbound Route 22 through the I-81 Exit 67 interchange is open. Access to northbound and southbound I-81 from westbound Route 22 is available. Traffic leaving the Harrisburg area by way of westbound Route 22 has access to northbound and southbound I-81 and westbound Route 22/322 toward Dauphin and State College.
* The ramp from northbound Interstate 83 to southbound I-81 was reopened around 4:45 p.m. Thursday, to allow motorists headed to westbound Route 22/322 to continue to the I-81 Exit 67 interchange and take the ramp to westbound Route 22/322 toward Dauphin and State College.
* The ramp from northbound I-81 to eastbound Route 22 toward Harrisburg at I-81 Exit 67 is open. This accommodates commuters and other motorists who can access northbound I-81 at Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and Exit 65 (Route 11/15) to continue across the George Wade Memorial Bridge to Exit 67 (Cameron Street).
* Eastbound motorists on Route 22 can access the ramps for both northbound and southbound I-81 at the I-81 Exit 67 interchange.
* The interchanges at I-81 Exit 61 (Route 944/Wertzville Road) and I-81 Exit 65 (Route 11/15) are open to traffic. Northbound motorists can go only as far as Exit 67 for eastbound Route 22 into Harrisburg.
* The states of Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey are utilizing running message boards to alert drivers in their areas to the I-81 closure in the Harrisburg area.
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