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Work is expected to begin Monday on the Route 372 bridge over the Susquehanna River in southern York County, a span that has been closed since a large crack was discovered last week.

The Norman Wood Bridge will likely remain closed for about a month as crews from Chester County-based construction company J.D. Eckman use large steel plates to patch the crack, according to Greg Penny, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

The bridge, which has carried Holtwood Road over the river since it was erected in 1968, has been closed since Monday, when bridge inspection crews discovered an 8-foot-long crack running up the side of a steel girder.

Though the bridge -- the only place in southern York County where people can walk or drive across the broad river -- will remain largely closed for an extended period of time, PennDOT plans to try to open up a narrow lane for pedestrians, horse-drawn buggies and light cars to cross, Penny said. He said the department will likely look at doing so as early as next week, after the crews get set up.

Single lane: If crews determine that it wouldn't hinder the repair operations or create dangerous conditions for the workers, they could open a single lane to cars of less than five tons, he said.

"Most vehicles are less than five tons," he said -- though SUVs or trucks "might have a problem."

The lane would alternate directions -- workers would let some traffic come from one end, then some traffic from the other to cross the 21-span bridge that normally carries more than 4,300 vehicles across the river each day.

The work will include jacking up the bridge from the girder, drilling holes in the metal to stop the crack from spreading, and then eventually affixing two large 14-foot-high-by-5-foot-wide plates on top of each other over the crack, Penny said.

"The bottom line: what this really is is a patch," he said.

In the meantime, official detour routes have been established: the Route 30 bridge, about 20 miles to the north, and the Route 1 bridge over the Conowingo Dam, which is about 15 miles to the south in Maryland.

- Reach Christopher Dornblaser @cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com, and Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.

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