PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Part of Martin Luther King Drive in Philadelphia is now reopened to vehicles for the first time since the start of the pandemic. However, part of the drive will remain closed.
The north half is open to drivers between Falls Bridge and Sweetbriar Drive only.
There was a large procession of some city officials led by police on MLK Drive Wednesday afternoon. But part of MLK Drive remains closed to traffic, frustrating some drivers.
“It shouldn’t be closed at all,” one driver said.
Martin Luther King Drive was supposed to fully reopen to traffic Wednesday.
But take a look under the MLK Bridge. A recent city inspection to the underside found a portion deteriorated so badly it’s not safe for vehicles.
“It’s reached an age where it needs more than just band-aids and patchwork,” said Mike Carroll with the Office of Transportation.
So for the next few years, as repairs are made, part of MLK Drive will be closed to vehicles and remain open for everyone else.
Sarah Clark Stuart is with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
“It’s in poor shape, our roads and bridges need a lot of work. But also, there’s a lot of demand for making them safe for anyone who wants to use the roadway for any purpose,” she said.
MLK Drive by the Philadelphia Art Museum has become a popular place for everyone from skateboarders to runners and, of course, bikers.
“I really love the open road. I like having all that space to ride,” Temple student Danny Farah said.
MLK Drive was initially closed to traffic in March 2020, giving those who like to exercises plenty of room to move about.
“We did a bike trip from my hometown in Montgomery County all the way here and I just was blown away by the expansive road, the canopy of the trees and the Schuylkill right along here,” West Philadelphia resident Daniel Gurevitch said.
But for those who live near MLK Drive, they want it reopened because of regular traffic jams on the Schuylkill Expressway.
“It’s a mess. The streets are a mess,” a woman said.
The bridge is expected to be repaired by 2024.