Benjamin Franklin Bridge Walkway Ramp Project Moving Along with Federal Grant Funding

Image: amdougherty/Flickr

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge’s walkway is expected to be under bid this year for construction. The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) recently authorized $3.78 million in federal Transportation Alternatives grant funding to add to the $400,000 in funding from the William Penn Foundation, bringing the total grant revenue for the project to $4.2 million. The bike and pedestrian path, which should be open by the end of 2018, is the only non-motorized connection between New Jersey and Philadelphia, as there are no connections on the Walt Whitman or Betsy Ross Bridges.

This particular connection has a long history: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been advocating for a ramp on the New Jersey side since 2004. In 2012, the DRPA finance committee approved the project and by May 2013, DRPA was soliciting input for designs. Last year, DRPA rejected the original construction bids, which turned out to be much higher than anticipated due to design complexities. Now DRPA is currently awaiting new designs for approval.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge walkway doesn’t just connect Philadelphia and Camden; it’s also a major component of The Circuit, connecting trails on both sides of the Delaware River. While a ramp exists on the Pennsylvania side of the bridge, the New Jersey side of the bridge is only accessible via a steep set of steps. When the new ramp is completed, the bridge will be ADA-compliant and accessible for all users.

This connection will also serve a growing variety of new development nodes, such as the Liberty Property Trust waterfront development, the Waterfront Lab co-working facility, the Rowan University-Rutgers Camden medical campus, and the Philadelphia 76ers new practice facility. Sites farther east in Camden, like the Subaru headquarters and Knights Crossing, as well as waterfront amenities like Gateway Park along the Cooper River, the opening of a new North Camden waterfront park and the expanded Phoenix Park along the Delaware River could also be easier accessed from Philadelphia.

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