Changes coming to South Street bridge

March 21, 2008 3:38:26 PM PDT
The South Street bridge has had officials concerned for years. Rina Cutler, the Mayor's transportation chief says, South Street is the only one that requires weekly safety inspections.

More than once, chunks of paving material have crumbled onto I-76. The plan, as of now, is to shut down the 1923 structure later this year.

"I would say somewhere between July and September," Cutler said.

While there is agreement the current bridge must go, there is no agreement about its proposed replacement.

Some who live nearby have blasted its looks and priorities.

"I think it's a terrible design. It's highway bridge for a bridge that should be connecting two neighborhoods. It is way out of scale. The design is quite ugly," Robert Duplessis of Fitler Square said.

Neighbors say they want a more pedestrian friendly bridge to link east and west.

"The walkway is not safe for pedestrians. There is no barrier between the road and the street," Shelly Greenfield said. Greenfield and many others want a redesign, but Cutler cautions extensive changes could trigger additional state and federal approvals.

She estimates the current proposal should cost about 52 million and take 18 months to complete. A major redesign could increase costs as well as lengthen the time South Street would be without a functioning bridge.