By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s been gridlock nearly every Friday afternoon in-bound to Philadelphia on the Ben Franklin Bridge this spring. You’re stuck in traffic, and the other side’s moving along just fine. And you wonder why your side doesn’t have another lane? There are a lot of variables.
Lane use decisions are made weekly. Managers at each bridge check the calendar, scheduled maintenance, special events and even home sports games to make lane allotments which, after the OK at headquarters, get posted for the next week.
“We do have a lot of experience counting cars but, also, sometimes the lane configuration is based on our experience of traffic volume,” says DRPA spokesman Tim Ireland. “Sometimes it’s simply because that a lane has to be washed, has to be maintained and in the case of the Walt Whitman Bridge we have a deck that has to be completely replaced.”
Ireland says summer Fridays create a particular challenge.
“For years we’ve looked at the Ben Franklin Bridge and noticed that from about 2:30 on, the traffic headed for the shore in May, June, July, August and September tends to pick up, but at the same time we’re doing construction so we’re urging people to use alternate Delaware River crossings and if possible to use PATCO.”
Reallocating lanes requires a barrier-moving machine which does not exactly turn on a dime.