The Vine Street Expressway (I-676) will remain closed until AT LEAST Thursday afternoon (August 6). The normally busy highway was closed late Tuesday afternoon after a barge on the Schuykill River came loose and made contact with the pillars holding up the highway, officials said.

The roadway will remain closed in BOTH directions between I-76 and Broad Street in Philadelphia. Traffic will continue to be heavily delayed in the area as motorists navigate through Center City.

The barge was part of a project to dredge "years of silt from Boathouse Row and the racecourse further upstream," Inquirer.com reports. The ongoing project began earlier this summer.

The barge remained on the water during the storm and the resulting historic flood and became loose, Inquirer.com says.

The Schuykill River continues experienced record flooding in Philadelphia because of Tropical Storm Isaias on Tuesday.

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The flood level of the Schuylkill reached 15.4 feet, according to the National Weather Service. That was the highest flood level for the river since 1869, the National Weather Service reported.

"Even if the bridge inspection finds no structural damage, eastbound and westbound I-676 will remain closed until at least Thursday afternoon (August 6) 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," PennDOT says.

Alternate Routes

Motorists are advised to allow extra time when traveling during this emergency closure of I-676. Traffic on the roadways leading up to the closure is backed up.

PennDOT offers these suggestions as alternate routes:

  • Motorists heading to New Jersey: Take I-76 East to the Walt Whitman Bridge;
  • I-76 motorists heading to Center City: Exit at the Spring Garden Street or South Street interchanges;
  • I-95 South motorists: Travel to Exit 19 and follow Front Street to Pattison Avenue to Broad Street to the I-76 West entrance ramp
  • I-95 North traffic: Follow I-95 North to I-76 West.