BETHEL TWP., Pa. -

Work began Wednesday to replace a bridge that was struck by a truck on Interstate 78 this past weekend.

Crews removed the center span of the Airport Road Bridge in Bethel Township after it suffered severe beam damage from the truck, which was hauling large equipment.

The eastbound and westbound lanes of I-78 are restricted to a single lane between Exit 13 (Route 501) and Exit 15 (Grimes).

Starting at approximately 11 p.m. Friday, I-78 will be completely closed between Exit 13 and Exit 16 (Midway) for about 15 hours as the six overhead beams of the bridge are removed.

"We understand this will cause traffic delays, but for the safety of the motoring public it is necessary to completely close the highway," said Christopher J. Kufro, district bridge engineer. "We appreciate everyone’s patience."

"It's going to be tough on the residents. We have to go one direction either way to pass the highway, and it's going to be tough on the businesses back here," said Paul Dougherty, who owns the Golden Age Air Museum at Grimes Airfield.

The museum is located on Airport Road, which is now closed indefinitely between Old Route 22 and Schubert Road. PennDOT said about 255 cars cross the bridge each day, and Dougherty fears the closure will kill business.

"We rely on visitors coming to see the museum and here for plane rides on the weekends," said Dougherty.

Next door, the international headquarters for the Assemblies of Yahweh is gearing up for its Feast of Tabernacles event in a few weeks. Between 500 and 700 people will be coming in from across the country, and officials said they will be impacted by the closure.

"When we send out the confirmations, we're gonna have to put notices in that they're going to have to come in a different way," said Nathaniel Meyer.

Airport Road traffic is advised to seek alternative routes. During the temporary closure on I-78. Eastbound traffic will follow the marked green arrow detour; I-78 West traffic will follow the marked orange arrow detour.

The bridge is a three-span, adjacent box beam bridge that was built in 1959. Design work has begun for a new bridge over I-78. The design is estimated to be complete in two to three years, with an estimated cost between $3 to $4 million, said PennDOT.

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.