Chestnut Hill residents updated on Willow Grove Avenue Bridge project

Chestnut Hill residents got an update Tuesday night on the city’s design plans for the soon-to-be-reconstructed Willow Grove Avenue Bridge.

The Philadelphia Streets Department secured $3.5 million worth of local, state and federal funding to overhaul the bridge, which cuts across railroad tracks part of SEPTA’s St. Martins Station, a stop on the agency’s Chestnut Hill West Line.

The project will, among other things, replace the old bridge with a new steel structure with a concrete deck; rehabilitate the bridge’s existing stone abutments and column supports; and replace a pair of electrical barriers.

The eight-foot barriers, which serve to protect passersby from the station’s electrical wires, sat at the center of Tuesday night’s brief presentation inside the Chestnut Hill Hospital’s conference room.

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In October, representatives with KSK Architects Planners Historians, Inc. offered up three design options.

The choices included using cedar tongue and groove boards, painted steel-plates or lightweight concrete.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the barrier would be made of steel-plates that will likely be painted a dark green.

Residents were then presented with three design choices for the barriers. The panels will either be left plain, feature the station’s name or a corrugated design.

Designers also informed residents that two-inch Wissahickon schist veneers would be embedded into the concrete work part of the bridge’s approaches and parapet.

The original design called for “faux” schist, which one resident called “ghastly.”

The winning electrical barrier design will be presented to the Philadelphia Art Commission for approval. The body must sign off on all architecture and public art projects that have city funding or that are located on publicly owned land, including streets.

The project also includes curb, sidewalk and SEPTA stair improvements, including a set of wheel-chair accessible ramps on the outbound side of the station.

Construction is slated to start sometime in the summer 2014 and take about a year.

The bridge will be shut down for the majority of that period. The train station will still be accessible.

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