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Normal Traffic Flow Restored On Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge After Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Part of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge remained closed Saturday morning, a day after a truck caught fire.

By 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, normal traffic flow had been restored, according to the Office Of Emergency Management. However, one lane on the Queensbound upper level remained closed for repairs and was expected to reopen on Sunday.

A 40-foot tractor trailer, which was carrying wooden, plastic and metal clothes hangers, burst into flames on the outbound lower level of the bridge around 11 a.m. Friday. The fire sent thick clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky before it was extinguished about an hour later, police said.

As a result of the fire, the approach to the bridge had backed up about 90 blocks on Friday. About 180,000 drivers take the bridge every day.

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By Saturday morning, most of the bridge was back open and traffic was smoother. But several changes for drivers remained in place, as CBS 2's Janelle Burrell reported.

While the bridge was far from back to normal, drivers were still relieved at the ease in delays.

"It's a miracle, a miracle," said motorist Tony Tomahawk of Woodside, Queens. "See, I wasn't expecting this."

The raging fireball backed up traffic and fueled frustration for the many drivers trying to cross the bridge between Manhattan and Queens.

"I come from Washington Heights – all the way from Washington Heights. It's bumper-to-bumper," one man said Friday morning. "We left the house at 6 o'clock, and we found it was closed from the other side, so we came all the way back around. It's ridiculous."

On Friday night, traffic was at a crawl as inspectors and repair crews continued work on the span.

On Saturday, the outbound upper level of the bridge remained completely closed, and the inbound lower level was be used for traffic headed outbound to Queens.

Inspectors said it appeared that an upper level floor beam needed to be replaced from the damage, and the repairs could continue through the weekend.

The beams were slightly out of line as a result of the fire, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported. Inspectors determined that the beams needed to be replaced and that some lanes would remain closed through the weekend.

"Frustrating, definitely, man," said Danny Stosic of Queens. "But it's the city. What do you expect?"

The electrical beams that stretch under the bridge were also being checked Saturday morning.

"Some fiber optic cable that controls all the cameras in Manhattan that we see in Central, that you news people use sometimes – that's was it is," explained DOT crewmember Rick Pierre.

Overall, traffic was moving decently Saturday morning, and motorists wanted to keep it that way.

"Don't jinx it!" Tomahawk said.

City Department of Transportation officials said they expected the work to be wrapped up sometime Sunday – in time for the Monday morning commute.

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