BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – An overpass partially melted by a tanker truck fire was demolished Saturday as crews worked overtime to reopen one of the nation's busiest highways.
Northbound lanes of Interstate 95 (search) might be reopened in three or four days, Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Cooper said Saturday. Officials were aiming to restore southbound traffic next weekend.
"Until traffic is moving in both lanes, it will be a 24-7 operation," Cooper said.
Nearly 120,000 vehicles a day travel the section of highway between New York and Boston.
Complete repairs, involving replacement of spans carrying both north- and southbound traffic, would normally take up to a year and a half, said Art Gruhn (search), chief engineer for the state Department of Transportation. But transportation officials said they planned to work overtime to get the repairs done more quickly.
The span carrying the southbound side of the highway, which sagged several feet when its steel beams were softened by Thursday's fire, was demolished Saturday.
A temporary bridge was being brought in from New Jersey. Engineers hoped to assemble it during the weekend and raise it on the southbound side of the highway next week.
"It's like a big erector set," Gruhn said.
Workers also were reinforcing supports for the span carrying northbound lanes, which suffered less damage, so it could be used for a limited period until it can be replaced.
The span carrying the southbound side of the highway sagged several feet when its steel beams were softened by Thursday's fire, caused when a tanker truck full of heating oil crashed.
Traffic was rerouted to other highways and through the city, and state police urged all motorists to avoid the area. Gov. John G. Rowland (search) asked commercial truckers from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts to enter Connecticut on Interstate 84 or not at all.
Rowland said Friday the state will receive $11.2 million in emergency federal funding to help get the highway reopened.