Full train service between 69th Street Transportation Center and Norristown Transportation Center (NTC) on SEPTA’s Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) resumes on Monday, November 11, 2013. This follows a four-month repair project that closed SEPTA’s Bridgeport Viaduct – the 3,175 foot- single track bridge that carries the NHSL over the Schuylkill River between Bridgeport Station and NTC. During the project, shuttle buses replaced train service between NTC and Bridgeport.
The Viaduct closure allowed crews to complete a bridge timber and tie replacement project and perform minor structural repairs to the 102-year old bridge. Work included the replacement of all track ties, bridge timbers, track level walkway and railing system; waterproofing; and some structural repairs, including structural steel repairs to the NHSL station at NTC.
“The bridge ties that sit directly upon the steel structure and hold the rail in place were rotting and failing,” said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s Deputy General Manager. “Without full timber replacement,, we would have had no choice but to permanently close the bridge. The completion of the project allows us to resume the safe operation of our trains across the Viaduct.”
The $7.6 million project was completed by Railworks Track Systems of Sewell, NJ. “We approached this project with an aggressive schedule in order to have as little inconvenience to our passengers as possible,” said Knueppel. “Our team worked 12-to-14 hour days to make sure we met our November goal.”
“The well-being of our customers and employees is our top priority,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey. “We appreciate the patience of our riders during this fourth month closure as we worked make the Viaduct safe for travel. We also thank the Bridgeport community for their understanding during the construction period.”
While the bridge timber and tie replacement allows SEPTA to maintain safe train operations between Bridgeport and NTC, an extensive rehabilitation program for the Bridgeport Viaduct structure is needed in order to bring the bridge into a state of good repair and to extend its service life by 40 years. This project includes cleaning and painting the entire Viaduct to protect against additional corrosion and making substantial structural repairs. A significant loss of capital funding over the last three years has forced SEPTA to defer major construction to the Viaduct despite designs for timber deck replacement and structural rehabilitation programs having been complete since 2011. The estimated cost of the structural repairs, painting and timber replacement is $30 million.
SEPTA had previously repaired the Viaduct twice before. In 1985, the bridge timbers, rail and power delivery system were completely replaced and the steel was painted and repaired. In 2009, the bridge piers were reinforced against scour.