Update: I-81 Southbound Reopens

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Sunday morning update: Interstate 81 southbound in Jefferson County reopened Sunday morning, after being closed from Kellogg Hill to the Jefferson-Oswego county line due to an ice jam.

81 has been closed since Friday afternoon.

A statement from the state Department of Transportation noted the road reopened at 9:45 a.m., and said monitoring of both the north and southbound lanes will continue.

What follows is our coverage from Friday.

The southbound lanes on Interstate 81 are closed from Kellogg Hill to the Jefferson-Oswego county line due to an ice jam.

State Department of Transportation officials say the breakup of an ice jam caused ice to accumulate near the southbound bridge over South Sandy Creek in the town of Ellisburg near County Route 85.

DOT spokesperson Mike Flick said there's concern the ice is threatening the structural integrity of the span.

He said bridges are built to withstand vertical stress, not horizontal pressure.

Flick said the concern is that the ice will push the bridge off its bearings.

Traffic is being detoured at exit 43 to Route 11 and back on to I-81 at exit 38.

Flick said there's too much ice to deal with the jam mechanically and it will have to resolve itself naturally.

Trying to clear the ice might only make matters worse, he said.

"You'd create a spot where you have a free flow of ice and it's got a chance to build up some momentum and then when it slams into the bridge it actually does some significant damage," said Flick.
 

He hopes the temperatures warm up enough this weekend to break up the ice jam.

"The hope is for the weekend we get some thawing and it'll flush itself and we'll be back to normal," said Flick.

The northbound lanes of the bridge is not affected, Flick said.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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