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A Brief History and Description of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge

Tacony-Palmyra Bridge - View from Philadelphia when opened in 1929
Tacony-Palmyra Bridge - View from Philadelphia when opened in 1929
1929 Bridge Policeman
1929 Bridge Policeman

The Tacony-Palmyra Bridge crosses the Delaware River between the cities of Palmyra, New Jersey and Tacony (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania.

The bridge replaced the existing ferry service operating between the same two cities. It was built by the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge Company after receiving approval from both the United States Congress and the United States War Department. Construction commenced in February 1928 and was completed and opened to traffic 18 months later on August 14, 1929. The total cost of the bridge was slightly more than four million dollars. The bridge was acquired in 1948 by its present owners, the Burlington County Bridge Commission, and they have successfully operated and maintained this vital regional transportation structure since that time.

The bridge is comprised of several different types of structures, including a through-tied arch at the middle of the river, a double-leaf bascule span, three-span continuous half through-truss spans and deck girder approach viaduct spans.

The total length of the bridge, from abutment to abutment, is 3,659 feet. Vertical clearance underneath the main Arch Span, at the center, is 61 feet at high tide. The minimum vertical clearance underneath the Bascule Span, at high tide, is approximately 54 feet.

Marine vessels requiring a vertical clearance greater than that of the movable span, in the normal closed position, will request a bridge opening. The Bascule Span leaves are raised to permit passage of the vessel. At that time, vehicular traffic on the bridge is temporarily stopped until the vessel clears the bridge and then the span resumes its normal lowered position.

''a bridge with proper maintenance we hope will last 100 years...''  - Ralph Modjeski, Chief Design Engineer 1929

The bridge is 38 feet in width and carries three lanes of vehicular traffic (two into Philadelphia and one into New Jersey) and also pedestrians across the river.

Electrical power to the bridge is supplied by both PSE & G (NJ) and PECO (PA) utility companies. Submarine cables that were installed underneath the riverbed carry the power from one side of the movable span to the other.

The bridge has both navigation lights and obstruction lights installed, at various locations, to warn both marine and air traffic of the bridge structure.

Over the years, the necessary repairs have been performed to maintain the bridge in its safe condition for the public use. Many upgrades of equipment and facilities have also been made.

The bridge remains in service to the public through virtually all kinds of weather and conditions. However, one exception was in December, 1988 when a portion of the Arch Span of the bridge was hit by a floating crane boom which resulted in the bridge being completely closed to vehicular traffic for one month while the required repairs were completed.

A complete replacement of the original bridge deck and maintenance walkways was performed starting in 1996 and was completed in 1998.

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