SEPTA Works to Repair Dangerous Bridge

By David Chang
|  Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013  |  Updated 7:12 PM EDT
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NBC10 first reported about the threat posed by the 52nd Street bridge at Lancaster Ave. in March. Railroad spikes and other debris had fallen from the bridge, according to officials. Councilman Curtis Jones and SEPTA are working together to remedy the situation. NBC10's Harry Hairston reports the details.

NBC10.com - Harry Hairston

NBC10 first reported about the threat posed by the 52nd Street bridge at Lancaster Ave. in March. Railroad spikes and other debris had fallen from the bridge, according to officials. Councilman Curtis Jones and SEPTA are working together to remedy the situation. NBC10's Harry Hairston reports the details.

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Weeks after the NBC10 Investigators reported on a dangerous bridge in West Philadelphia, SEPTA officials are now taking action.

Stephanie Lloyd says she could’ve been killed last March while in West Philadelphia. Lloyd was stuck in traffic while underneath the 52nd Street Bridge at Lancaster Avenue when she heard a pop.

“I thought I popped my tire,” she said.

But instead, the sound was actually a piece of metal striking her car. A 30-pound metal slab from the bridge landed on her vehicle, causing a huge dent.

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Joseph Martin, a civil engineer, says the 52nd Street Bridge, originally built in 1902 and owned by Amtrak, is a “threat to the public.” He inspected the bridge five years ago after residents started complaining about parts falling from it. Shortly after his inspection, Amtrak made repairs. However, the bridge still had issues even after that.

“It could kill you,” said Martin. “It’s very dangerous.”

Martin believes the metal that struck Lloyd’s car is an old tie plate likely left behind after railroad workers replaced it. A tie plate is used to hold the rails to the wooden beams along a track.

“Since it’s on a bridge and the bridge shakes with every train it eventually shook off the edge,” said Martin.

City councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., who represents the 4th District, says for years residents have complained about the bridge while he has voiced those complaints to Amtrak.

“We went out there and did a spot check and saw projectiles that are obviously railroad spikes,” he said. “Someone shouldn’t have to die in order for them to move on this issue.”

Officials from both SEPTA and Amtrak have heeded Jones' warning. Both organizations are working together to repair the bridge this year.

"Initially we will be replacing portions of one of the structures that crosses 52nd Street," said Jeffrey Knueppel, SEPTA's Deputy General Manager.

SEPTA says that although money is tight, it was clear something needed to be done to the bridge sooner rather than later. Amtrak officials say they have discussed details with Jones about repairs to the bridge as well.

"We are getting some action," said Jones. "Because of the attention brought to it by your broadcast, my voice has been heard. The consumer's voice has been heard."

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