Friday, September 04, 2009

New Plans For the Betzwood Bridge

The long awaited replacement of the of the Betzwood Bridge between the Schuylkill River Trail and Valley Forge finally appears to be moving forward. The Bridge was closed in 1993 and severed access to Valley Forge National Park from the Schuylkill River Trail.

The closing of the bridge raised the ire of the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley who staged a protest at the bridge. Several protesters were arrested when the fencing blocking the bridge was cut (charges were later dropped) but the result was a series of meetings with PennDOT that helped reopen access. First a bike shuttle service was initiated and that was replaced by the construction of the current "temporary walkway" that was cantilevered from the US 422 Bridge. The original Betzwood Bridge was eventually demolished.

Montgomery County originally planned a reopening of the bridge with a physically separated multi-use path and was supposed to be constructed in the late 1990's. However the latest proposal calls for a bicycle and pedestrian only bridge, the result of right sizing the project with the adjacent Schuylkill Crossings Route 422 bridge project.

At this time the design build contract could be let as early as December 2010 although it is likely that construction won't begin until sometime in 2011.

Scenes from the Betzwood Bridge Protest in February 1993