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Seventh and Final Phase of Walt Whitman Bridge Re-decking Project Underway
$140 Million Project is Six Months Ahead of Schedule; Goodbye to “Cattle Chutes”
Walt Whitman Bridge motorists can wave goodbye to “cattle chutes,” or traffic lanes bounded by concrete barriers, as the $140 million re-decking project enters its final phase of construction six month ahead of schedule.
Crews removed the chutes last Friday, as re-decking began on the northernmost (westbound) lane of the seven-lane Walt Whitman Bridge. In addition, the DRPA lifted restrictions on overweight and wide-load permit vehicles.
“The end of this project is in sight – and much sooner than we has originally anticipated,” said DRPA Chief Engineer Michael Venuto. “We had hoped to complete work in the first quarter of 2014, but if everything stays on track, we should be wrapping up this fall.”
Motorists also should suffer fewer – and shorter – traffic jams during this year’s Jersey Shore beach season. Last summer, work on the bridge’s center lane prevented traffic lane adjustments; only three lanes could be opened in each direction, even if most of traffic was headed in only one direction.
“This summer we can move the center barrier again,” Venuto said. “So if most of the traffic is moving from Pennsylvania to the shore, we can open as many as four eastbound lanes. We’re headed into Memorial Day with much more flexibility.”
The seven-phase re-decking project includes removal of the suspended span, installation of a lightweight grid deck, structural improvements, new parapets and a new steel-shell movable barrier. Almost 56 years old, the Walt Whitman Bridge first opened to traffic on May 16, 1957. In 2012, motor vehicles crossed the bridge about 37 million times.
The deck removal and replacement project is the second largest capital improvement project ever undertaken by the DRPA. Two contracts totaling $139,774,286.67 to re-deck the Walt Whitman Bridge and monitor construction of the project were awarded by the DRPA Board of Commissioners in May of 2010.
During peak traffic periods, commuters are encouraged to consider using the Commodore Barry Bridge, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge or the PATCO Hi-Speed Line.
Project updates are posted on a dedicated website, www.deckthewalt.com, and also may be heard on the Walt Whitman Bridge traffic advisory radio station at 530 AM.
The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation agency that connects millions of people and businesses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The DRPA owns and operates the PATCO commuter rail line and the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross toll bridges. The DRPA also owns the RiverLink Ferry.
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