Located between the Schuylkill River and Fitler Square is a fashionable neighborhood in the Center City area of Philadelphia. At this spot, the CSX Railroad parallels the river and presents a physical barrier for residents wanting to enjoy the river and its recreational Schuylkill Banks trails. The issue of public access became quite contentious and resulted in a Federal Court Order to provide safe access to the river.
The 12’-6” x 95’-8” modified Keystone®-style, Continental® truss bridge connects to a section of riverfront that has been developed along a former industrial bulkhead. The bridge created a unique connection to Philadelphia’s “Hidden River” while also enhancing the existing transport network by creating direct connections between the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, the University of Pennsylvania, 30th Street Station, Drexel University and Center City.
Designed in conformance with the Tidal Schuylkill River Master Plan, the cost-effective bridge design maximized path width and utility by creating a functional yet economical structure that fits into the fabric of the neighborhood. The design was context sensitive minimizing the environmental impact of the project by neatly tucking itself within the existing tree canopy. Powder coated bronze mesh in stainless steel frames were added along the railings to blend into the bridge architecture and finish, while providing a sturdy safety system.
By enhancing the connection to Schuylkill Banks and by assuring that this grade separation is available for use even when freight trains may be stopped along the tracks, the project created an alternative transportation corridor which, in turn, reduced demand on nearby roadways and sidewalks.
"The project called for a design/build approach for the bridge," stated Wallace Rutecki, PE, President of Rockport Construction, the contractor on the project." The bridge was the centerpiece of the project, so we wanted to be sure the supplier had the following credentials:
• A local representative to manage the job
• Design/Build experience
• Past experience with the City of Philadelphia and PennDOT
• Previous experience with specialty designs
After reviewing several proposals, we selected Contech Engineered Solutions as they were the only supplier that met all of our qualifications. The Contech team worked closely with the City and its project team to ensure all the specific features and design, fabrication and delivery requirements were addressed. One item of particular importance were the overhanging walkway lights. These were custom items and Contech was able to meet the architect’s vision and the structural requirements of the City, while allowing for ease of installation. The project was an overall success, and we will definitely consider Contech on future projects."
More than just a connection between two points, the Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge has become a city landmark that many hope will improve the quality of life in central and south Philadelphia by attracting residential development in the urban core and reducing urban sprawl.
This bridge was the recipient of the 2013 American Society of Highway Engineers (ASHE) Delaware Valley Section Project of the Year Under $10M award.