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Released: 5/15/2007 

DRPA Celebrates Walt Whitman Bridge's 50th Anniversary

In celebration of the 50th birthday of the Walt Whitman Bridge, Authority officials unveiled the “Walt Whitman Bridge, Celebrating 50 Years” banner that currently adorns the bridge toll plaza as part of a year-long commemoration of DRPA’s busiest bridge spanning the Delaware River. Opened on May 16, 1957, the Walt Whitman Bridge served as a major contributor to the Delaware Valley’s economy by providing access to the South Philadelphia sports complex, the Philadelphia Food Distribution Center, port terminals on both sides of the river, South Jersey’s Black Horse Pike communities, the Atlantic City casinos and the shore resorts. “DRPA is proud of the rich history of the Walt Whitman Bridge,” said John J. Matheussen, DRPA’s Chief Executive Officer. “As a major artery in the region, carrying more than 120,000 vehicles daily, the Walt Whitman not only connects two states but also connects us all as neighbors.” To commemorate this milestone, DRPA has dedicated a special section of its website to the history of the Walt Whitman Bridge and will conduct various anniversary events throughout the year. DRPA welcomes visitors to its website to view a special commemorative page which includes a photo gallery featuring historic Walt Whitman Bridge photos. In addition, visitors to the website can visit the “Memory Lane” section and read passages from local residents who witnessed the opening of the Walt Whitman Bridge. In April, DRPA partnered with the Walt Whitman Association to conduct a poetry contest for high school students in Philadelphia, Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. The contest theme relates to Walt Whitman’s ability to build connections. Winners will be announced the end of May. In May, DRPA hosted a special session of its READ STRONG program to celebrate the birthday of the Walt Whitman Bridge. Students from both sides of the river, Cold Springs Elementary School in Gloucester City, NJ and Stella Maris Elementary School in Philadelphia took part in the event. This session of READ STRONG was held at the Walt Whitman Bridge Administration building. To mark the bridge’s golden anniversary, a rededication ceremony took place at the bridge facility on May 15th. DRPA Commissioners and staff, local officials, area business leaders and Walt Whitman, himself, was present as we celebrated the Walt Whitman Bridge. The Walt Whitman Bridge is the 12th longest suspension bridge in North America and one of the busiest bridges on the continent. Since inception it has carried approximately 1.6 billion vehicles across its span. Because of its grace and beauty, the Walt Whitman was named the most beautiful bridge built in its class during 1957. The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation and development agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, the PATCO High Speed Line, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry System.

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