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Updated: 12/18/2013 03:57:42PM

UPDATE: I-75 southbound reopened; delays expected

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Florida Department of Transportation workers assess damage to the Interstate 75 overpass at mile marker 184 in North Port Wednesday.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 75 was described as a "parking lot" late Wednesday morning, backed up to Jacaranda Boulevard. It took some motorists almost an hour to get to River Road, and another 45 minutes on U.S. 41 to the Sumter Boulevard detour.

A Sarasota County Sheriff's deputy races around traffic to go to one of several crashes on U.S. 41 caused by the backup.

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UPDATE: Southbound Interstate 75 is reopened, but police estimate there is still a 1-hour backup at River Road.

Florida Department of Transportation officials are hoping to reopen the southbound lane of Interstate 75 before rush hour in the area between River Road and Sumter Boulevard in North Port. Local traffic on Ponce de Leon Boulevard will continue to be rerouted. At about 2:35 a.m. Wednesday a driver of a dump truck that was being used as part of a widening project on Interstate 75 hit the Ponce de Leon Boulevard bridge from underneath, damaging the structure. There were no reported injuries. The Florida Department of Transportation’s engineers have assessed the damage. Of the seven beams that are part of the bridge’s structure, one of the beams needs to be replaced. Workers chipped away all of the loose concrete from the damaged area. Currently, FDOT officials are wrapping a fabric around the damaged area to catch anything that may fall or impede traffic. This is being done to create a “quick fix” so that southbound traffic can move again. In the long term, FDOT officials are intending to remove the beam on Thursday evening and, throughout the weekend, put a new beam in its place. The bridge on Ponce de Leon Boulevard will remain closed and the North Port Police Department will continue to divert traffic until the structure is sound. Southbound I-75 traffic has been rerouted throughout the day. Drivers have been encouraged to take Jacaranda Boulevard to U.S. 41 south and then north on Sumter Boulevard back to I-75. Updates on this project will be provided on the city of North Port’s website at

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