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April 19, 2018

Emergency repairs underway for Ben Franklin Bridge as further inspection continues

Infrastructure Bridges
Stock_Carroll - Riding a PATCO train over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Riding the PATCO train from New Jersey to Philadelphia.

Last month inspectors found the Benjamin Franklin Bridge – which carries 100,000 cars a day, plus hi-speed PATCO trains – was due for emergency repairs to recover from major steel deterioration.

In late March the Delaware River Port Authority was told by a contractor that the bridge was suffering from “significant deterioration of a lateral bracing member,” yielding a crack in an important roadway support. Drone cameras were used to further confirm the safety concern.

The crack was found while inspecting the bridge’s anchorage on the Philadelphia side. When a PATCO hi-speed train passed on the bridge above, the inspector noticed too much movement, the Courier-Post reported.

Philly-based Infrastructure solution firm HNTB Corp. – which first identified the problem – was enlisted to help with the repairs, along with Westville, NewJersey-based Cornell & Company. Both companies will also continue to inspect the bridge. There are currently three other bridge areas being inspected.

In light of the deterioration identified last month, you might have noticed your PATCO train moving a little slower. The typical 30 mph speed was ordered to be reduced to 15 mph during reparations. With repairs complete, however, PATCO is now running at regular speeds. 

Despite these transit changes, DRPA said there are no new procedures for cars or legal truck loads traveling on the bridge at this time.

The last full inspection of the bridge was in 2016.