WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - Highway engineers say a crucial bridge on the Eastern Seaboard's interstate highway system could imperil drivers if traffic is allowed back on it.
The bridge, near Wilmington, was closed Monday when its support pillars were found to be tilting. The Interstate 495 bridge won't reopen anytime soon, and the 90,000 vehicles that cross it every day are being diverted onto the main north highway, I-95, further overloading one of the most crowded arteries in America.
The answer as to why a bridge on a major East Coast interstate is tilting could lie deep underground.
The Interstate 495 bridge in Wilmington, Delaware, which normally carries 90,000 vehicles a day, was closed Monday after four pairs of support pillars were found to be tilting. Officials don't know when it will reopen.
Preliminary findings indicate the ground underneath the pillars has shifted, but engineers and workers in hard hats are using shovels and high-tech sensors to try to figure out the extent of the problem.
Officials said they believe the mile-long bridge over the Christina River is not in any danger of collapsing under its own weight. But out of concern for public safety, they do not want to allow traffic back on it until they find out more about what caused the pillars to shift.
HOW TO GET AROUND IT: The affected route, Interstate 495, parallels Interstate 95. So I-95 through downtown Wilmington is the main detour.
FROM MAINE, NEW YORK AND OTHER POINTS: Southbound traffic on I-495 is closed at the Pennsylvania state line, with traffic diverted onto I-95 southbound. Drivers traveling south from New York may want to stay on the New Jersey Turnpike, rather than getting on I-95, crossing into Delaware over the Delaware Memorial Bridge south of Wilmington and then getting back on I-95. Southbound port of Wilmington traffic is being directed to Interstate 295 east and then to Delaware 9 north to the port.
HEADING NORTH ALONG THE EAST COAST: Officials say I-495 is closed northbound at Terminal Avenue, which leads to the port of Wilmington. Drivers traveling north can stay on I-95 through Wilmington or take Interstate 295 into New Jersey and bypass northern Delaware. Local northbound traffic can stay on I-495 to Terminal Avenue.