Restoration of Penn Street Bridge in Reading well underway

$42.5M project to continue until December 2019

READING, Pa. - Crews contracted by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are taking advantage of this week's spring-like weather to make noticeable progress on their work to restore the 104-year-old Penn Street Bridge in Reading.

Just a few weeks ago, as the three-year project was getting underway, workers were dealing with subfreezing wind chills; on Thursday afternoon, they were enjoying warm sunshine and a high temperature of 73 degrees, 30 degrees above the normal temperature for February 23 in Reading.

On Thursday, crews were carefully working to remove the concrete lattice-style railing along the north side of the bridge, which remains open to four lanes of traffic. Pedestrians must use the sidewalk on the south side of the span to cross back and forth between center city and West Reading.

Crews are also using rocks and soil to create a temporary peninsula from the west shore of the Schuylkill River, extending about two-thirds of the way across the water. That will allow workers better access to the bridge's underside.

The $42.5 million project to rehabilitate the structurally deficient bridge began in December. The work includes concrete repair, superstructure replacement, ramp work at the Penn Street / Route 422 interchange, ornamental lighting and traffic signal lighting.

PennDOT said motorists should expect occasional nighttime lane restrictions into the spring, when the work will pick up following the reopening of the Buttonwood Street Bridge, which was closed for a rehabilitation project in July 2015.

An eastbound lane restriction on the Penn Street Bridge will be in place for approximately two years. Then, for the final three to six months of the project, the bridge will be reduced to one lane of travel in each direction.

Also beginning in the spring and lasting until the end of the project in December 2019, the Route 422 West / West Shore Bypass ramp to Penn Street will be closed, forcing motorists to use the Route 222 / Lancaster Avenue exit to Bingaman Street and Fifth Street.

The 27-span concrete arch bridge, constructed in 1913, is downtown Reading's primary gateway from the city's western suburbs, with an average daily traffic volume of nearly 34,000 vehicles.

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