Officials have decided what to do with a 130-year-old, structurally deficient pedestrian bridge, which was holding up the opening date of Center City’s long-awaited Rail Park.
The key is adding a few support beams to the bridge, rather than tearing it down and rebuilding it, the Center City District (CCD) announced in a statement Friday. They also released the park’s new official opening date—early June.
The announcement comes after discussions earlier this year about what to do with the pedestrian bridge, which sits above 13th Street and will serve as the main pedestrian entrance to the elevated Rail Park. Construction crews found rust and corrosion under the bridge, leading officials to determine it was not structurally sound.
The first phase of the Rail Park was set to open in February, but that date had to be pushed back to spring as the CCD made plans to have the bridge demolished and replaced.
However, a recent re-examination of the bridge, completed by the CCD’s design team, made them change their minds.
“They concluded that the stone and steel structure, which was constructed to bear the weight of railroad freight cars, is sufficient and safe for pedestrian traffic under current load conditions, if a few additional supports are added to the existing bridge,” the CCD said in a statement.
They plan to add in supports and conduct annual inspections of the bridge to ensure it remains safe—an option that will save time, money and preserve the 130-year-old bridge’s character, the CCD said.