CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – The DRPA made emergency structural steel repairs on the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The repairs to the substructure of the bridge present no imminent danger of a collapse but they didn’t want to waste any time fixing the problem.
Providing passage over the Delaware River for cars, trucks and the PATCO high speed line, the structural integrity of the bridge is extremely important to travel in our region.
That’s why when a routine inspection three weeks ago revealed an issue with the steel substructure, Port Authority CEO John Hanson released emergency funds to make immediate repairs.
“That does not mean necessarily that there is imminent danger, that there is a huge risk right at the moment but it does mean that there is something we need to take care of quickly,” Hanson said.
The issue was where the bridge deck commuters drive on attaches to the support tower on the Pennsylvania side of the river. A couple criss-cross braces that minimized how much the bridge sways side-to-side were not giving the proper support.
Bridge officials already had plans to replace the wind braces but it wasn’t until an inspector was on site and a PATCO train went by that they realized how poorly the braces were working.
“So, he stayed around for the next train and said that definitely doesn’t look right and he looked at it and said I think we need more immediate attention.”
Starting repairs immediately the work is now complete. Hanson says all is safe. And the “Ben” should last for many more generations.
The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) says in late March a contractor was doing inspection work for the bridge’s maintenance and steel repairs. During the inspection they found “significant deterioration of a lateral bracing member.”
They say, “Due to the location, knowledge of the bridge and magnitude of the repairs required, we enlisted the assistance of HNTB and Cornell & Company, Inc (Cornell) to provide their expertise on long span bridges and make repairs to the structural steel members affected.”
Both companies are working on inspections and repairs of the bridge, and PATCO trains are now running at 15 MPH, instead of 30 MPH.
They say at least three other areas are being investigated for similar possible repairs.
The Ben Franklin Bridge carries more than 100,000 vehicles daily. The DRPA says passenger vehicles and legal truck loads on the bridge are not affected at this time.
The bridge gets a comprehensive inspection every two years that’s happening now, and further routine maintenance work is expected.