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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Construction storm beats out tropical gale in Battle of the Bridge

When Tropical Storm Allison washed out a circa-1912 stone arch bridge June 16 and 17, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) officials figured it would be at least a month before service to its R5 Lansdale-Doylestown line was restored. But then another storm blew through — this time SEPTA crews and contractors working 24/7 to restore the bridge.

SEPTA plans to resume regular service over the newly completed, $5 million Fort Washington bridge July 23.

"I commend the SEPTA managers and construction crews and our contractors for their efforts to fast-track the replacement of the Fort Washington bridge," said SEPTA General Manager Jack Leary in a prepared statement. "The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also worked closely with us so that we could expand the size of the bridge. From bridge to design to construction, this massive project will be completed in only 35 days."

At 114 feet long, the two track, three-span steel deck girder bridge was constructed to withstand more than three times the volume of floodwaters as was the original bridge.

Since losing the stone bridge, SEPTA has accommodated the nearly 6,000 passengers who normally use the line by running shuttle buses between Ambler and Jenkintown, Pa.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/23/2001