It’s no secret the City of Philadelphia has a rich history. Think 1776, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, to name a few. But did you know that our history expands beyond our founding fathers? It appears in local architecture and area bridge structures. For example, let’s take a look at the 110 year old Walnut Lane Bridge, located in Northwest Philadelphia. The bridge, which runs over the Wissahickon Creek, connects the neighborhoods of Germantown and Roxborough and dates back to 1908. At one time it was the world’s longest concrete bridge. Another local bridge is the 116 year old Adams Avenue Bridge which carries Adams Avenue over Tacony Creek in the Tacony Creek Park section of Philadelphia.
Thanks in part to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) commitment to restoring and preserving historic bridges, both bridges recently underwent multimillion dollar renovations in 2016. The six-span Walnut Lane Bridge built in 1906 received a new deck, sidewalk, sidewalk supports and balustrade railing. The concrete arch was repaired along with support abutments and piers to match the architectural line and texture of the preexisting structural abutments and piers. New lighting was also installed.
Work also began on the structurally-deficient stone-arch Adams Avenue Bridge which was built in 1901. JBC provided the sole on-site Construction Inspection of the project. Repairs included strengthening the three-span structure by resetting and repointing stones and reconstructing portions of the stone masonry walls. Other repairs included removing fill inside the structure and replacing it with lightweight concrete; repairing bridge foundations; rebuilding existing wing walls which extend from the support abutments and widening the right turn lane onto Crescentville Road, which will improve traffic flow within the intersection. Scour protection was also added around the support abutments and piers.
The $14.7 million Walnut Lane Bridge project was financed with 100 percent federal funds, while the Adams Avenue Bridge rehabilitation was 100 percent state funded.
PennDOT received the 2017 Preservation Alliance Grand Jury Awards for the two projects at an awards ceremony held on June 7. Thanks to PennDOT’s bridge preservation efforts, we will be able to enjoy these historic structures for years, or shall we say centuries, to come.