The Fifth Street Bridge in Delaware City was closed today due to issues with the steel decking.

The Fifth Street Bridge in Delaware City was closed for several hours on Sept. 20, after an 18-inch gap was discovered between its decking and the roadway.

Delaware City Town Manager Richard Cathcart said an expansion joint on the north side bridge that is supposed to be flush with roadway collapsed sometime before 8:30 a.m., when an employee of the Governor Bacon Health Center notified town officials of the problem.

“Thankfully no one drove over it after it collapsed and we were able to get barriers up rather quickly,” he said.

Richar Pearsall, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the cause of the joint collapse was not immediately known.

The 80-year-old former drawbridge, located one-eighth of a mile north of the Reedy Point Bridge, carries Del. Route 9 over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Branch.

Cathcart said workers with the Army Corps, which maintains the bridge, managed to pull the expansion joint flush with the roadway and welded in place, which allowed the bridge to be re-opened about eight hours after the collapse was first reported.

Army Corps engineers returned on Tuesday to re-evaluate the bridge and determine more permanent repair options.

The Fifth Street Bridge is slated for complete replacement in the fall of 2014. The federal project has an estimated price tag of $3 million and is expected to take eight to 12 weeks, officials said.

“This is the first time we’ve had a problem with the bridge, although I believe it’s about 10 years beyond its rated life,” Cathcart said. “But there are issues with it, so the timing of the replacement is good.”

Business owners last week said the bridge closure had little to no impact on their businesses.

“We’ve had a couple of fishermen stop in to ask for directions to the canal, but that’s about it,” Tera McKinley, the office manager of the Delaware City Marina on Canal Street, said hours after the bridge was closed.

Town Councilman John Buchheit, who owns Crabby Dick’s Restaurant on Clinton Street, agreed that the bridge closure did not have much impact on business.

“We’ve been doing pretty well, although I haven’t seen as many bikers today, so maybe that’s why,” he said. “But if the bridge had to be closed all weekend, that would have been huge.”