By Mike DeNardo

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Commuters on the Ben Franklin Bridge have been inconvenienced with lane closures and gaps in PATCO service since Memorial Day.

The orange cones are squeezing traffic on the bridge down to three or even two lanes, and you’re behind the wheel asking yourself just what are they doing?

“There’s a lot of construction that the drivers don’t see, because that’s done underneath the roadway of the bridge on platforms,” explains DRPA spokeswoman Fran O’Brien.

O’Brien is talking about the two-year $103-million job to replace the 40-year-old PATCO tracks. The work was done on the south side of the bridge earlier this summer.

PHOTOS: PATCO Track Work On Ben Franklin Bridge

Now, it’s the north side.

Work is just finishing to remove the wooden railroad ties on the Philadelphia side of the bridge.  Those ties are lifted by crane onto trucks parked in the far-right westbonud traffic lane.  The platforms are being cleaned, sandblasted and painted before the new ties and rail tracks are installed.

“What we’re doing is we’re sandblasting the old areas that we could not paint because the track was sitting on it,” O’Brien says. “Now, we’ve removed that track so we can paint those areas.”

The work is taking place from east to west, with loud sandblasting happening on the Camden side now, near Rutgers. Commuters will have to endure the lane closures and train delays until this phase of work finishes October 21st.

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