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Subsurface ground movement eyed as cause of bridge tilt that made Delaware interstate close

  • Bridge Closure-1.jpg

    Traffic is routed off of Interstate 495 near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns on a bridge over the Christina River. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)The Associated Press

  • Bridge Closure-2.jpg

    A worker with Delaware Department of Transportation walks behind a warning sign on Interstate 495 near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns on a bridge over the Christina River. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)The Associated Press

  • Bridge Closure-3.jpg

    Traffic is at a stand-still after the I-495 bridge closed on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 near Wilmington, Del. Morning rush hour on I-95 through Wilmington, Delaware, was slower than usual after the I-495 bridge over the Christina River was closed Monday because four supporting columns were tilting. No major problems were reported, however, and traffic was flowing in both directions. The I-495 bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day, carrying traffic around Wilmington and freight trucks to the port of Wilmington. The closing forced more traffic onto I-95, which runs through downtown Wilmington and already is heavily congested during the morning and afternoon rush hours. (AP Photo/The Wilmington News-Journal, Robert Craig) NO SALESThe Associated Press

  • 358cd410b3040815560f6a7067008ee2.jpg

    A worker inspects the underside of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)The Associated Press

  • Bridge Closure-5.jpg

    A worker inspects the underside of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, June 3, 2014, after it was closed due to the discovery of four tilting support columns. The closure created heavier-than-normal traffic conditions for motorists on Interstate 95, a major East Coast artery. The bridge normally carries about 90,000 vehicles a day. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)The Associated Press

Engineers say subsurface ground movement appears to have caused supporting columns on an Interstate 495 bridge in Delaware to tilt, forcing the indefinite closure of the highway that is a major East Coast artery.

Officials said Tuesday they believe the bridge over the Christina River is stable enough to support itself, but that re-opening it to traffic could overload the structure.

Four pairs of 50-foot columns have been found to be tilting, with the top of one column roughly two feet out of line with the bottom. Cars are being diverted onto the already busy I-95 causing even more traffic.

Engineers are conducting tests to determine the exact cause of the problem. No exact timetable for the bridge to reopen has been determined.

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