The following is text of a news release from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT):
(KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.) — Eastbound and westbound Interstate 676 reopened Thursday afternoon in Center City Philadelphia following the relocation of three barges that were lodged on the north side of the interstate bridge over the Schuylkill River.
As a safety precaution, PennDOT closed I-676 in both directions and the associated ramps between the Broad Street (Route 611) and Interstate 76 interchanges on Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 4), after three barges were displaced from their moorings on the Schuylkill River near the Art Museum.
The barges were being used by the Army Corps of Engineers and its contractor to dredge portions of the waterway above the Fairmount Dam. During Tropical Storm Isaias, the barges were pushed downstream and rested against and under the I-676 bridge.
PennDOT inspected the structure on Wednesday (Aug. 5) using a bridge crane with an articulating boom that curled under the deck to enable engineers to examine the bearings, the bridge beam that came in contact with the barge, and all connections to make sure the bridge was structurally sound.
Despite no serious damage to the bridge, PennDOT kept I-676 and the associated ramps closed until the water receded and the Army Corps of Engineers and its contractor safely towed the barges upstream to their original location.
(KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.) — Interstate 676 and its associated access ramps remained closed in both directions Wednesday between the Broad Street (Route 611) and Interstate 76 interchanges in Philadelphia following contact with a loose barge on the north side of the interstate bridge over the Schuylkill River.
PennDOT bridge engineers are inspecting the I-676 structure and will utilize a bridge crane with an articulating boom to allow engineers to move under the bridge deck to examine the beam that was struck by the barge, plus related bridge bearings and other structural connections to ensure the bridge is structurally sound. The barge drifted into the bridge Tuesday during Tropical Storm Isiasis.
Even if the bridge inspection finds no structural damage, eastbound and westbound I-676 will remain closed until at least Thursday afternoon when the Schuylkill River is expected to recede to the point where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can initiate the operation to dislodge the barge from the I-676 structure.
Editor's note: The barge pictured is Weeks Marine No. 75.