Happy 60th birthday, Walt Whitman Bridge!

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Walt Whitman Bridge turns 60. Sharrie Williams reports during Action News at Noon on May 21, 2017. (WPVI)

Sixty years ago this month, the trip to and from New Jersey changed.

The Walt Whitman Bridge opened to traffic.

The idea for the Walt, as many call it, began not long after the Ben Franklin Bridge was completed in 1926.

At first, planners considered a tunnel running under the river between South Philadelphia and Gloucester City.

Designed by Swiss engineer Othmar Ammann, the architect of the George Washington Bridge and Lincoln Tunnel in New York City, the Walt Whitman Bridge was controversial.

Walt Whitman was a famous poet who passed away in Camden, not far from one end of the bridge now bearing his name.

But, questions about his sexuality prompted some Roman Catholic authorities in New Jersey to protest against naming the bridge for him.

Now, he's in New Jersey's Hall of Fame, and the bridge is a daily vital link to the city and the Jersey shore.

The Walt Whitman Bridge also became, and still is, a key connector to the sports complex.

The bridge officially opened to traffic on May 16, 1957.
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