This stairway on the Camden side of the bridge will be replaced with a ADA Accessible Ramp. Photo: Pennsylvania Rail Trail Sojourn July 2010

We have said this before, but this time, it’s for real: We now are closer than ever to getting an ADA accessible ramp on the Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway.

As noted by a story in the Courier Post, “A Delaware River Port Authority committee recommended Tuesday that the full board award two contracts later this month involving construction of the ramp to make it easier for bikers, pedestrians and people with disabilities to reach the walkway.”

We expect a new ramp will begin construction in the fall. When complete, it will look like this:

A conceptual drawing of the new ramp, which could open in the Spring of 2019.

There still are a couple steps left in the process before the construction can begin. First this must be approved by the DRPA Commissioners, it is scheduled to be on the Board Agenda for the August 16 meeting. After that the Governors of each state have 10 business days to veto the decision.

According to the press release the project should begin in the fall with an 18 month construction period. For most of this time the north walkway will be open to bicycle and pedestrian traffic as an alternate route.

It’s been a long road. For example, here is a link to an early BCGP blog post on the proposal in 2006 in DRPA in which they originally rebuffed the idea of a ramp.

In 2008, the ramp was finally added to DRPA 5 year Capital Program, but as these things normally occur the plan for the ramp experienced several project delays, including a toll hike revolt that nearly cancelled the project. The latest setback came was last fall when the bid proposals were three times higher than estimated by project planners.

Instead of just shelving the project for the unforeseen future, DRPA quickly went back to work tweaking the project design, secondly NJ DOT came through with additional federal funding for the project. The bid was put out again and on August 1st the winning bid from South State was recommended for board approval DRPA’s Operations and Maintenance Committee.

The voices of long time supporters, including some of you reading this post were heard by the DRPA Board of Commissioners. Thanks to everyone including Commissioners, DRPA Citizens Advisory Committee, The William Penn Foundation, NJDOT, Members of the Circuit Coalition and Bicycle Coalition members.

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