BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A traffic nightmare on a Friday afternoon. Interstate 70 west is completely shut down after workers find a crack in a beam that holds up the bridge.

Highway officials tell Christie Ileto there are serious concerns for public safety

There was an emergency closing to a major artery Friday evening. No cars can cross the I-70 westbound bridge over the Patapsco River because it’s shut down.

“One of our paint crew members realized we had a small crack in one of our girders,” said Chief Engineer David Coyne, Maryland State Highway Administration.

And by rush hour, the Maryland State Highway Administration closed the 49-year-old bridge for urgent repairs.

“In the interest of public safety, we wanted to make sure that we took the precaution to close the bridge down so our inspectors and bridge engineers could look at it closely,” said Coyne.

But the closure caused major backups during Friday rush hour.

“I was trying to take I-70 originally,” said one driver.

Drivers were forced to take alternate routes.

“It’s really miserable. It’s taking me about two hours to get home from work when it usually takes about 20 [minutes],” the driver said.

Roadblocks and traffic diversions. That’s what drivers can expect as crews work to make repairs to the bridge.

“It’s crazy. A good half hour trying to get to Staples,” one driver said.

Some sitting in the gridlock took their frustrations to Twitter.

State highway officials say they inspect Maryland bridges at least every two years and hope the closure will only impact one rush hour.

“At this point, it’s too early to know if we’ll for sure open it by Monday rush hour. We’ll have a better assessment as we go through the night,” Coyne said.

Officials recommend drivers use Route 40 or Liberty Road in lieu of I-70 while repairs are being made.

For the latest traffic report, click here.

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