Full train service between 69th Street Transportation Center and Norristown Transportation Center (NTC) on Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) Norristown High Speed Line (NHSL) will resume on November 11, 2013, following 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. The $7.6-million project was completed by Railworks Track Systems.
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.”
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 past 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.