Interstate 83 still closed at Queen Street overpass after another truck hits bridge

Staff report

Commutes could be a nightmare for many York County residents for the rest of the week after the Queen Street overpass on Interstate 83 in York Township again was damaged in a Wednesday afternoon crash.

As of Thursday morning, the interstate was closed in both directions, as well as Queen Street, or Route 74, in both directions. Traffic has been detoured off I-83 at the exits before the overpass in both directions and the Queen Street overpass (Route 74) is also closed at this time.

Motorists on 83  will be able to make it as far as the exits for Route 74 (exit 16) and will then cross straight over and back onto 83 (off ramp to on ramp). 

The South Queen Street bridge will be closed through Friday, York County Regional Police said in a statement Wednesday. 

More:I-83 to reopen in time for rush hour, PennDOT says

Interstate 83 detours at Queen Street

PennDOT has put detours in place on Route 74. For Route 74 northbound, turn right on Pauline Drive, then turn left onto Springwood Road. Turn left to stay on Springwood Road. For Route 74 southbound, follow 1-83 south to Exit 14, turn left onto PA 182 then turn left onto 1-83 northbound, Exit 16. This detour is also for the Exit 16A ramp to I-83.

Also for those going northbound on Route 74, there will be flaggers at York County School of Technology to help motorists leave the campus during the afternoon rush hour as well, PennDOT stated.

This is the second time this year that a truck hit the overpass. It was struck in February, but work on a permanent repair began just two days ago.

More:Construction to begin on Queen Street bridge over Interstate 83

More:Repair to damaged Queen Street overpass to cost $600K — and PennDOT is suing trucking company to foot the bill

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Wednesday's crash occurred just before 3 p.m., when the driver of a northbound dump truck attempted to pass below the overpass with the truck’s bed raised, PennDOT spokesperson Fritzi Schreffler said.

The bed of the truck remained wedged under the bridge until Wednesday night, Schreffler said, but was finally removed.

"From pictures we have seen, it was really wedged in there and required several cuts to be able to pull it out. You likely saw that on our camera," she said.

The Route 74 bridge was damaged to the point it cannot support Queen Street traffic, Schreffler said.

"The plan for now is to put support beams across the damaged area as a temporary fix so that we can get 83 open in both directions," she said. "That is not a simple task and the materials we need are currently in Franklin County. We hope to have 83 open and one lane of 74 south (the left lane) re-opened to traffic by Friday morning."

PennDOT emergency contract with JD Eckman to work to stabilize the bridge for now, Schreffler said.

"At some point, we will need to come back in and do a more permanent repair/replacement, but that needs to be planned out and we will certainly advise you when that happens," she said.

In addition to the damage to the bridge itself, 83 north was also damaged and will need to be patched, Schreffler said.

Schreffler said she believed the truck driver involved with the accident was injured, but she did not know the extent of his injuries.

Also, a motorist passing by at the time of the crash had their windshield shattered by debris, she said.

A temporary fix has been in place at the overpass since an 18-wheeler struck the span on Feb. 28. Work on a permanent repair, estimated to cost approximately $600,000, was scheduled to Monday and could last until the end of the year, causing lane restrictions and a closure of the interstate, according to PennDOT.

The department is in litigation with the trucking company whose driver damaged the bridge in February, and it hopes to recover the repair costs, Dave Thompson, a spokesperson for PennDOT’s District 8, said earlier this month. 

Thompson would not name the company or reveal any information about the court case. The York Dispatch has filed a Right-to-Know Law request for that information. PennDOT has asked for an extension for a response to that Right-to-Know request until Sept. 21

“The department always attempts to recoup damages from responsible parties through appropriate legal avenues when department structures are impacted, but due to ongoing litigation we cannot release any further specific details in the case,” Thompson said.

An exact schedule for the permanent repair is not clear.

“We are still waiting for the new beam fabrication to get closer to being completed before setting anything in stone,” Thompson said. 

The repair project includes the replacement of some damaged beams, heat straightening of other damaged beams, painting parts of the bridge, and removal and replacement of parts of the deck and bridge barrier located above the damage, Thompson said. 

The work is being done by J.D. Eckman Inc., a construction firm based in Atglen, Chester County.

PennDOT was aiming to have the South Queen Street overpass repairs completed by the end of the year, Thompson said.