A portion of Interstate 75 on the Manatee-Sarasota line has been closed down after damage to an overpass, deputies said, and it may not reopen anytime soon.
All but one southbound lane of I-75 are closed at the University Parkway overpass. There are at least three holes in the surface of the highway that are open to the road below -- the largest is the size of a manhole cover.
I-75 motorists are being detoured to U.S. 41 and are able to re-enter I-75 at Fruitville Road.
University Parkway is also closed in both directions.
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman said they hope to have one lane of University Parkway open in each direction by Tuesday morning. The overpass will likely take another 48 hours, according to Trooper Kenn Watson with the FHP.
"We're hoping to get this wrapped up in a couple of days," said Robin Stublen, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation.
Stublen said a large piece of metal equipment weighing "thousands of pounds" came off a truck, and bounced on the roadway, causing the holes.
Engineers are at the scene assessing the damage. Stublen said they hope to have repairs complete in 48 hours. He said the structure of the bridge is okay.
"It's just that there are holes in it," he added.
Crews hope to have one lane in each direction (east-west) on University Parkway open by the morning commute.
They may have to close lanes intermittently for safety reasons in the meantime.
FDOT wants drivers to be patient in take lots of extra time for morning commute. Traffic backed up on many side roads as drivers searched for ways around the blocked lanes.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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