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South Street Bridge reopening announced for early November

With 25,000 state-owned bridges, Pennsylvania has the third-largest number of bridges in the nation. Few see as much traffic as Philadelphia's South Street Bridge. The thoroughfare connecting the western section of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood to University City and I-76 sees over 25,000 vehicles per day. So when the bridge was closed for repairs on Dec. 8 2008, the construction had to be completed quickly. Now, less than two years later, the bridge is set to reopen on November 6. 

"This was an aggressive schedule," says Streets Department Civil Engineer David Perri. "But that bridge serves too many folks that need to cross the Schuylkill. The longer it's closed, the more of a negative impact it has on the business interests and on people who need to walk and bicycle to work."

But this Pennsylvania bridge wasn't going to go through a closure without getting a few bells and whistles. The Streets Department added widened sidewalks, dedicated bicycle lanes, a crossing to the Schuylkill River trail, and four pedestrian overlooks at the base of the decorative towers. And the neighborhoods surrounding this arterial passage couldn't be happier. To celebrate the reopening, a formal ribbon cutting will follow the ceremonial first motorist, first pedestrian and even first cyclist to cross the bridge.

To mark the occasion, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology will offer half-price admission to everyone on both sides of the bride who comes to the museum without a car. Also, various South Street merchants will be throwing block parties to welcome the traffic back to the community.

"If you take this many vehicles out of a neighborhood, it will have an impact on the commercial businesses," says Perri. "This will restore the traffic to the level it was at before the bridge closure."

Source: David Perri, Philadelphia Streets Department
Writer: John Steele
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