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Benjamin Franklin Bridge
Benjamin Franklin Bridge at sunset in February 2023
Coordinates39°57′11″N 75°08′02″W / 39.953°N 75.134°W / 39.953; -75.134
Carries7 lanes of I-676 / US 30, 2 PATCO railroad tracks, and 2 sidewalks
CrossesDelaware River
LocalePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania to Camden, New Jersey
Official nameBenjamin Franklin Bridge
Other name(s)Ben Franklin Bridge
Maintained byDelaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey
ID number4500010
DesignSteel suspension bridge
Total length9,650 feet (2,940 m)
Width128 feet (39 m)
Height385 feet (117 m)
Longest span1,750 feet (530 m)
Clearance above135 feet (41 m)
Clearance below41.19 feet (12.55 m)
Construction cost$37,103,765[1]
OpenedJuly 1, 1926; 97 years ago (1926-07-01)
Daily traffic100,000
TollCars $5.00; trucks over 7,000 lbs $7.50/axle; buses $3.75/axle (westbound) (E-ZPass)
Official nameBenjamin Franklin Bridge over the Delaware River
DesignatedDecember 12, 2003[2]

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, originally named the Delaware River Bridge and known locally as the Ben Franklin Bridge, is a suspension bridge across the Delaware River connecting Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, New Jersey. Owned and operated by the Delaware River Port Authority, it is one of four primary vehicular bridges between Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, along with the Betsy Ross, Walt Whitman, and Tacony-Palmyra bridges. It carries Interstate 676/U.S. Route 30, pedestrians/cyclists, and the PATCO Speedline.

The bridge was dedicated as part of the 1926 Sesquicentennial Exposition, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. From 1926 to 1929, it had the longest single span of any suspension bridge in the world.


19th century

The westbound approach to the bridge shows the zipper barrier and the overhead gantry lights in May 2005
Ben Franklin Bridge at sunrise in September 2009
Ben Franklin Bridge at night in June 2010
Sign for the bridge on Penn Street in Camden in July 2021

Plans for a bridge to augment the ferries across the Delaware River began as early as 1818, when one plan envisioned using Smith Island, a narrow island off the Philadelphia shore that was removed in 1893. Local engineer John C. Trautwine proposed a four-span suspension bridge in 1851. In 1868, a committee of Philadelphia and Camden interests proposed a unique design with two parallel low-level drawbridge spans which would allow ships to pass in stages without interrupting traffic across the bridge. A later proposal by John Alexander Low Waddell employed helical approaches to avoid purchasing expensive land for approaches to a high-level suspension bridge. None of these proposals were constructed.

20th century

To find a permanent solution, the Delaware River Bridge Joint Commission, now the Delaware River Port Authority, was created in 1919.[3]

The chief engineer of the bridge was Polish-born Ralph Modjeski,[4] the design engineer was Leon Moisseiff,[5] the supervising architect was Paul Philippe Cret,[5] and the construction engineer was Montgomery B. Case.[6] Work began on January 6, 1922.

At the peak of construction, 1,300 people worked on the bridge, and 15 died during its construction.[7] The bridge was originally painted by a commercial painting company owned by David A. Salkind, of Philadelphia, which also painted the Golden Gate Bridge.[4] The bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 1926, three days ahead of its scheduled opening on the nation's 150th anniversary. At completion, its 1,750-foot (533-meter) span was the world's longest for a suspension bridge, a distinction it held until the opening of the Ambassador Bridge in 1929.

The name was changed to "Benjamin Franklin Bridge" in 1955, since a second Delaware River suspension bridge connecting Philadelphia and New Jersey, the Walt Whitman Bridge, was under construction.

21st century

The bridge was closed to vehicles on July 1, 2001, to allow pedestrians to celebrate its 75th anniversary.[8]



The bridge originally included six vehicle lanes and two streetcar tracks on the main deck, with provision for a rapid transit track in each direction outboard of the deck's stiffening trusses, which rise above the deck rather than lie beneath it. The tracks were built to the nonstandard broad gauge of the Public Service Corporation of New Jersey's Camden streetcar system;[citation needed] the design called for the streetcars to cross the bridge from Camden to Philadelphia, enter an underground terminal beneath the bridge's west entrance plaza, and return to Camden via the opposite track.[9] Streetcar stations were also built in the bridge's anchorages.[10] None of the streetcar facilities were ever placed in service, as Public Service ran no cars across the bridge from its opening until the company abandoned its Camden streetcar system in 1932;[10] after that, the tracks were removed, and the space was converted to vehicular lanes.[11]

The outer pair of rapid transit tracks went into service in 1936 with the opening of the Bridge Line subway connecting Broadway and City Hall in Camden with 8th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.[12] The Bridge Line, extended to 16th and Locust in 1952, began carrying PATCO trains in 1969.[12] Today, it carries the PATCO Speedline, which descends into tunnels on both sides of the bridge. Both, the Eastbound and Westbound railroad tracks and support structure were reconstructed from June 2014 and finished October 2014.[citation needed]


The bridge carries highways I-676 and US 30, but only the New Jersey section of the bridge carries I-676, as the section of the bridge approaches on the Pennsylvania side are not up to interstate highway standards, including at-grade traffic crossings. The Pennsylvania section of I-676 (which runs east–west, and not north–south as New Jersey's I-676 does) ends at the ramps to I-95. I-676 is signed across the bridge from both sides, however, to be less confusing to drivers. Before the 1953 New Jersey state highway renumbering, New Jersey Route 25 (Route 25), Route 43, and Route 45 ended in the middle of the bridge, and I-76 was signed on the bridge until 1972, when it switched routings with I-676, which until then ran across the Walt Whitman Bridge.

"Zipper" barrier

The seven vehicular lanes are divided by a concrete "zipper" barrier, which can be mechanically moved to configure the lanes for traffic volume or construction.[13] Red and green signals mounted on overhead gantries indicate which lanes are open or closed to traffic in each direction. The lights indicate closures for construction, accidents or breakdown as well as traffic separation. Generally, during the morning rush hour, there are four lanes open westbound and three eastbound, with the situation reversed during the evening rush hour. Before the zipper barrier was installed in 2000-2001, one lane of the bridge was kept closed at peak times to reduce the risk of head-on collisions as there was no physical barrier separating east and westbound traffic.


Effective July 2011, one-way tolls to cross the bridge are charged in the westbound (towards Pennsylvania) direction. The charges include:

Proposed Camden-Philadelphia BRT

There are proposals for a Camden-Philadelphia BRT, a bus rapid transit system between the two cities extending into Camden and Gloucester that would use the bridge.[16]


Pedestrian walkways run along both sides of the bridge, elevated over and separated from the vehicular lanes; of these, only one is open at a time. The DRPA temporarily closed the walkways to the public the day after the 7 July 2005 London bombings, citing security concerns. The DRPA also closes the walkway after snowfall, or if the weather forecast includes a chance of snowfall, and closed it in late August 2011 during Hurricane Irene and in late October 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.

See also


  1. ^ "DRPA :: Delaware River Port Authority". Archived from the original on 2013-08-17. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  2. ^ "Phila Register no addr" (PDF). Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  3. ^ Petroski, Henry (2002). "Engineering: Benjamin Franklin Bridge". American Scientist. 90 (5): 406–410. doi:10.1511/2002.33.3325. ISSN 0003-0996. JSTOR 27857716. S2CID 119751258.
  4. ^ a b "Auto Parking to Be Banned in Bridge Area". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 1926-06-19. p. 4.
  5. ^ a b "Ben Franklin Bridge". Delaware River Port Authority. Archived from the original on 2022-09-05. Retrieved 2022-10-08.
  6. ^ "In University Circles". The Nebraska State Journal. 22 January 1922.
  7. ^ Howard, Michael and Howard, Maureen. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2009 (Images of America series) ISBN 978-0738562582
  8. ^ "Ben Franklin Bridge Celebration". Archived from the original on 2012-01-01.
  9. ^ DeNardo, Mike (15 September 2014). "Thousands Cross Ben Franklin Bridge Daily, But How Many Know Its Secret?". CBS Philadelphia. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  10. ^ a b Stuart, Sarah Clark (2018-08-09). "Touring the inside of the Ben Franklin Bridge Anchorage". Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  11. ^ Caroulis, John (2019-03-15). "The art museum that's also a bridge". PhillyVoice. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  12. ^ a b "DRPA - About Delaware River Port Authority". Delaware River Port Authority. Archived from the original on 2022-10-10. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  13. ^ Nussbaum, Paul (2015-03-18). "Ben Franklin Bridge to get new "zipper"". The Philadelphia Inquirer. OCLC 5794616505. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  14. ^ a b "DRPA - Travel Info". Delaware River Port Authority. Archived from the original on 2022-10-14. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  15. ^ "DRPA - Travel Info". Delaware River Port Authority. Archived from the original on 2022-10-13. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  16. ^ "South Jersey Bus Rapid Transit System". NJ TRANSIT. Archived from the original on 2022-10-08. Retrieved 2022-10-08.