George C. Platt Bridge
|George C. Platt Memorial Bridge|
Platt Bridge, looking south
|Official name||George C. Platt Memorial Bridge|
|Carries||4 lanes of PA 291 (Penrose Avenue)|
|Design||through truss bridge|
|Total length||8,780 feet (2,680 m)|
|Width||48 feet (15 m)|
|Longest span||680 ft (207 m)|
|Vertical clearance||17.5 feet (5.3 m)|
|Construction begin||Late 1940's|
|Construction end||Early 1950's|
|Daily traffic||56,000 |
The George C. Platt Memorial Bridge is a through truss bridge that carries PA 291 (Penrose Avenue) over the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was opened to traffic in 1951, replacing a swing bridge to the south which carried Penrose Ferry Road across the river. Originally called the Penrose Avenue Bridge, it was renamed in 1979 to honor Civil War hero George Crawford Platt (1842–1912). Today, the Platt Bridge is a key arterial route which carries an average of 56,000 vehicles daily.
The bridge passes over an oil refinery (originally owned by Gulf Oil, now by Sun Oil). It has been imperiled a few times by fires at the refinery. On August 17, 1975, fire broke out in a tank to the northeast of the bridge that was being filled with Venezuelan crude oil. As the fire enveloped much of the refinery, several explosions put a large crack in a smokestack next to the bridge. Officials closed the bridge for several hours, fearing that the stack might collapse or the fire might damage the bridge. The 1975 Philadelphia Refinery Fire also killed eight firefighters.
In 1986, two bronze bas-reliefs of Platt's visage were mounted on poles at each end of the bridge. The works were commissioned by Platt's great-great-grandson, Lawrence Griffin Platt, who raised $10,000 with the help of a former Gulf Oil executive, and were sculpted by Philadelphia artist Reginald E. Beauchamp. Both were later stolen, the first in 1987, and the second some time later. A $500 reward offered by the Philadelphia Daily News in 2002 was unsuccessful in securing their return.
In June 2011, PennDOT began a three-year, $42.8 million rehabilitation project to repair and maintain the bridge, enabling it to continue to safely carry vehicular and pedestrian traffic for decades to come. Crews will paint the bridge’s steel truss and structural steel underneath the spans to protect them from the elements. They will also rehabilitate and resurface the center truss spans; resurface concrete approach spans; repair structural steel; replace or improve expansion joints; repair concrete piers; repair and replace guide rail; and replace damaged pedestrian railings. During construction, the bridge's four lanes have been reduced to two; one in each direction. From May 7, 2012, until the scheduled completion of construction in June 2014, trucks and buses weighing more than seven tons or carrying hazardous material are banned from the bridge to minimize the risk of accidents on one-lane sections.
- "Platt Bridge Overview". PennDOT. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "GEORGE C. PLATT MEMORIAL BRIDGE - OFFICIAL DESIGNATION". PennDOT. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- Hinkleman, Michael (September 19, 2002). "Stolen bridge signs still unaccounted for; $500 reward for markers taken in late '80s". The Philadelphia Daily News: M08.
- "Lane Closures and Traffic Stoppages Saturday and Sunday on Bartram Avenue at Route 291 (Penrose Avenue) Overpass in Philadelphia". PennDOT. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "Platt Bridge Travel Restrictions Start Feb. 20 in Philadelphia". PennDOT. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- Abrams, Mark (3 May 2012). "Trucks Carrying Chemicals Banned From Platt Bridge Until 2014". CBS. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- "Platt Bridge Truck and Hazardous Material Detour to Start May 7 in Southwest Philadelphia". PennDOT. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- George C. Platt Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation Project at the official PennDOT website.
- Listing at Historic Bridges of the U.S.
- "In 1975, beneath Philadelphia’s Penrose Avenue Bridge, an extinguished refinery fire roared back to life, killing eight men."