If you have late-night plans in Philadelphia early next week, don’t plan on taking the Walt Whitman Bridge.
In the closing steps of a four-year, $140-million re-decking project, construction crews will be pulling out cranes and adding overhead sign gantries overnight Monday and Tuesday, Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) officials said.
On-ramps to the Walt Whitman will shut down around 11 p.m. both Monday and Tuesday, and the bridge will be completely shut down between midnight and 4 a.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday.
“After studying several alternatives, we concluded that closing the Walt Whitman Bridge late at night would create the least customer inconvenience,” said Michael Venuto, the DRPA’s chief engineer. “Although a two-night closure might disrupt some traffic, it signals the approaching end of the re-decking project. Seven-lane traffic flow across the Walt Whitman Bridge is just around the corner.”
Drivers are being directed to the Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross or Commodore Barry bridges during the overnight work, and DRPA officials also encouraged commuters to use the PATCO High-Speed Line as an alternate.
Three massive gantry cranes weighing 70,000 pounds each, used to pull up old sections of the bridge and install the new deck, have to be removed over the course of both nights as crews finish out the seventh and final stage of construction, which is about six months ahead of schedule, officials said.
The four overhead gantries being installed at the same time will hold directional, warning, lane-use and speed-limit signs.
The entire $140 million project, begun in May 2010, involved removing the suspended span and installing a new lightweight grid deck, as well as structural improvements, new parapets and a new steel-shell movable barrier.