Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Victory! DRPA Finally Moves Forward On Ben Franklin Bridge Ramp

Question: What do over 1,000 signatures, 20 letters from local community groups, educational institutions, hospitals, development corporations and two Federal Senators, plus press coverage and boat loads of phone calls add up to?

Answer: progress!

This morning the Delaware River Port Authority Finance Committee voted unanimously to approve the designation of $350,000 to design a ramp for walkers and cyclists on the Camden side of the South Walkway of the Ben Franklin Bridge. This ramp will replace the current treacherous three story stair tower.

This is a victory for bicyclists and pedestrians in our region. Huzzah!

We filled the Board room seats with cyclists who spoke eloquently about the need to replace the stair tower for safety, connectivity and accessibility reasons. A special thanks to Jeff Braff, Matt Anastasi, Mike and Anne Kruimer (from Edison NJ!), Matthew Norris from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Andy Hamilton from the East Coast Greenway Alliance, Russell Meddin, and Craig from Haddonfield for attending and providing public comment.

DRPA CEO John Matthuessen went over the possible timeline for the project. The process for selecting a consultant might last about 4 months, followed by 4-6 months of design. DRPA would have to then authorize the construction money in the 2013 Capital Program, with the possibility of supplementing DRPA Capital Funds with federal transportation dollars or other outside funding sources. Construction would then commence in 2013 with a 2014 completion.

Want extra assurance? During the meeting, Jeff Nash, the Camden County Freeholder and Vice Chair of the DRPA Commission, said that, "If we designate $350,000 to design the ramp, then our intent is to build the ramp."

That makes sense to us.