Engineers Examine Bridge to Determine If Beam Fracture Is Isolated Problem or “Systemic Issue”

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, “Engineers working on the closed Delaware River Bridge face the task of determining whether a failed beam was an isolated case or something that could happen elsewhere on the structure. ‘They’d be interested in knowing if this is a systemic issue,’ said Carl DeFebo Jr., spokesman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.” The commission closed the I-276 bridge that links the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Turnpikes on Friday afternoon, January 20, after discovery of a crack in a truss. The newspaper adds that “engineering experts say pictures of the fissure show signs of holes mistakenly drilled into the beams and then filled with plug welds. That was an approach not uncommon in the 1950s, when the bridge was built, but one modern engineers do not recommend because it can create a weak point in a steel beam.”