Bridge Beams Placed on I-80

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Expect some delays along a stretch of Interstate 80 in Columbia County.

PennDOT is working on several bridge projects in the area, including one near Berwick.

The westbound River Bridge is one of seven bridges PennDOT crews are working on near Berwick. It's a $50 million project that is expected to take four and a half years to complete.

This week crews are putting five beams in place. Each of the beams is 84 feet long and weighs about 45 tons each.

Ray Sterner is PennDOT's lead inspector on the project. He said the beams were lifted from the eastbound lane of I-80 onto the westbound bridge causing delays for drivers.

"They're rolling road blocks right now, slowing traffic down. As soon as the beams unload, traffic will be flowing. The clear out time is about five to 10 minutes," Sterner explained.

He added PennDOT's goal is to improve the bridges and and on-ramps on Interstate 80, making them safer for people to drive on.

"People are coming to yield and don't have enough room to merge with traffic. This way we will have longer, wider ramps to merge much better and much safer," Sterner added.

The on-ramp in Mifflinville will be closed until August 4 for safety reasons. Sterner said there have been multiple accidents in that area. In the meantime, drivers are being detoured through Millville, across the river onto Route 11.

"It's in the best interest of the traveling public to close that ramp for safety purposes," said Sterner.

The detour is something Ken Hurst, who lives near Erie, isn't too happy about. He drive trucks on Interstate 80 and had to make the detour.

"Even the cars, I'm sure they don't appreciate going through town. It would be a lot easier to go on the ramp, but we know they gotta fix the road, but it's a mess for everybody," Hurst said.

Sterner said he expects the beams to be in place by the end of next week. The bridge project is expected to be finished in 2015.