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Falls Bridge to close for emergency repairs in 2016

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The New Year is going to bring new traffic problems for drivers who use the Falls Bridge in Fairmount Park. (WPVI)

The New Year is going to bring new traffic problems for drivers who use the Falls Bridge in Fairmount Park. The bridge over the Schuylkill River will be closed for a month or more for repair work.

Officials say it's a temporary, but an emergency fix is in the works.

Darin Gatti from the Philadelphia Streets Department says, "We're going to be posting a detour and putting out a press release with the detour route as soon as it's developed."

Last month city inspectors found problems with the Falls Bridge. Drivers apparently can't see the troubled areas because they are under the road surface, where beams and the bridge deck meet.

Gatti explains, "There was rusting of the steel, corrosion of the connections. And we are putting out an emergency bid to reinforce these connections."

Beginning in February, the plan is to close the popular river crossing to vehicles for 40 days as special brackets are fitted under the bridge. Drivers will have to find alternate east/west connections, leading to what will likely be longer commutes for many.

The 121-year-old bridge is part of the landscape. The design of its lace-like metal railing is incorporated to neighborhood motifs. The boxy bridge itself has hosted a community fund raising dance, and it's become more than a bridge to some.

Gina Snyder of the East Falls Development Corp. tells us, "I would say the Falls Bridge is the symbol of the neighborhood at this point. People love the bridge."

The city is also committed to the bridge.

The 40 day closure should yield a temporary fix so that the bridge can have a full restoration five or six years down the road. Darin Gatti says if the bridge undergoes a full restoration, it will be useful for another 40 to 60 years.

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