Major Traffic Delays After Shutdown Of 2 Upper-Level Outbound Lanes

FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — All lanes on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge reopened Tuesday morning.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had to close two upper-level westbound lanes on Monday so crews could complete emergency repairs.

Port Authority spokesman Chris Valens said engineers working to rehab the bridge’s steel deck heard an alarming banging sound from under the deck that could have signaled a cracked beam. A crane was needed to complete the repair.

Valens said snow plowing and salting on the bridge over the weekend may have contributed to the problem.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Port Authority chief engineer Peter Zipf said the problems with the bridge occurred in the old steel beams and they were unanticipated.

“The main concern is not a life safety issue. It’s that you’re going to have a slight depression in roadway, might call it a pothole,” Zipf said. “You’re going to have cars coming through it.”

Zipf said precautions are being taken as the final expansion joints are put into place to prevent nightmarish backups.

“By Sunday, we’ll have these 40 sections addressed and we’ll be past this situation,” he said.

But Zipf also told CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer that we have not seen the end of problems on the bridge.

The emergency closures were announced around 11 a.m. Monday. The Port Authority had said it hoped to have the lanes reopened by 2 p.m., but that figure was later revised to 9 p.m. and finally to Tuesday morning.

The shutdown created major traffic delays.

“We’ve been in traffic a long time,” driver Ron Watson said. “At least 45 minutes or an hour just coming down the block.”

“It’s awful,” said driver Javier Gutierrez. “I’m just trying to get home and it’s terrible.”

The repairs come less than a week after emergency repairs on the bridge snarled traffic and emergency repairs closed three lanes heading into New York City one month ago.

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