Monday morning marked what could be the start of several frustrating months for drivers commuting in and out of Reading as PennDOT narrowed the heavily-commuted Bingaman Street Bridge to single lanes in both directions.
The lane restrictions come as a safety measure after a recent inspection discovered 10 deteriorating beams beneath the bridge deck, according to Sean Brown, a PennDOT spokesman.
Brown said J.D. Eckman Inc. will soon make repairs to the bridge, which he estimated could take "at least a few months" to complete. A start date, however, is undetermined at this time.
Mayor Vaughn Spencer told 69 News that the lane restrictions caught him by surprise.
"We weren't aware of this being a matter that necessitated immediate attention," said Spencer. "We understand that yes, there's concern about the weight on the bridge, and we got to do it."
The structure, which is nearly a century-old, serves as a gateway across the Schuylkill River from Lancaster Avenue and the West Shore Bypass. An average of nearly 16,000 vehicles travel the bridge each day, according to PennDOT.
"I just hope they get done quickly," said Minga Pedraza, who travels across the bridge at least twice each day.
John Wertz, of Reading, also uses the bridge to commute daily.
"It's gonna be a mess," said Wertz. "That's a main corridor for me and everyone else in the area."
The bridge was built in 1920 and was rehabilitated in 1966. It's just one of a few Schuylkill River spans in need of restoration.
Work on the Schuylkill Avenue Bridge in northwest Reading is already underway. It's due for completion in November.
Plans are also in the works to rehabilitate the Buttonwood and Penn Street bridges.