Manayunk Bridge

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Manayunk Bridge
Manayunk Bridge PA.jpg
Manayunk Bridge in 1999.
Other name(s) Pencoyd Viaduct
Carries Former Cynwyd Line
Crosses Schuylkill River and Schuylkill Expressway
Locale Manayunk, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Maintained by SEPTA
Designer Pennsylvania Railroad
Design Open spandrel deck arch
Material Concrete
Longest span 150 feet (46 m)
Number of spans 15
Piers in water 3
Constructed by T. L. Eyre (Philadelphia)
Construction end 1918
Closed 1986
Coordinates 40°01′31″N 75°13′35″W / 40.02528°N 75.22639°W / 40.02528; -75.22639Coordinates: 40°01′31″N 75°13′35″W / 40.02528°N 75.22639°W / 40.02528; -75.22639

The Manayunk Bridge (a.k.a. Pencoyd Viaduct) is a historic bridge in Pennsylvania across the Schuylkill River and adjacent Schuylkill Canal between Bala Cynwyd, Montgomery County and the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.


Built by the former Schuylkill Valley Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, it is notable as a large concrete open spandrel arch bridge built on a reverse curve, earning both the current bridge and its 1883 wrought-iron-truss predecessor the nickname of "S-Bridge."[1] The bridge's challenging geometry was executed by T. L. Eyre, a Philadelphia contractor. Another notable feature is the saw-toothed construction joints along a 65-degree skew.[2]

In 1976, SEPTA purchased the bridge for its Cynwyd Line. Weather-related expansion and contraction of the bridge, coupled with the shedding of pieces of concrete due to spalling, led to its closure by SEPTA on October 25, 1986. Fearing demolition, a rehabilitation campaign commenced in 1996[3] and completed in 1999. During the rehabilitation, it was revealed that SEPTA had been overzealous in their closure of the bridge, as the internal steel reinforcement was not compromised as SEPTA had suggested.[1] Further investigation by Urban Engineers determined that the bridge was safe and only needed surface work to stop the spalling.[1] In 1999, construction finished on a project to stabilize and refurbish the viaduct, but train service did not return to Ivy Ridge as expected.[1]

A SEPTA R6 Ivy Ridge train transverses the Manayunk Bridge on November 17, 1985. Service was permanently truncated to Cynwyd the following October. Though rehabilitation of the viaduct was completed in 1999, SEPTA did not reinstate service over the bridge.

Manayunk Bridge Rail Trail[edit]

SEPTA had little interest in restoring passenger train service after rehabilitation was completed.[4] Indeed, many attempts were made in 1996 to terminate Cynwyd service altogether due to its lower ridership (the 1986 cutback closed three of the line's six stations).[4] A small but strong (and politically connected) rider protest resulted in SEPTA not only retaining service, but adding additional trains to Cynwyd by 1997.[4] However, train service was not re-extended over the bridge as expected. Though there have been repeated calls to restore the discontinued service between Cynwyd and Ivy Ridge, SEPTA permanently dropped plans for restoration in 2008 when all 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of trackage north of Cynwyd was removed between 2008 and June 2010 for the Cynwyd Heritage Rail Trail[5] and Ivy Ridge Rail Trail.[6] The Manayunk Bridge is slated to also be converted into a rail trail connecting the two aforementioned rail trails.[7]

Further reading[edit]

  • Garforth, Harry, Jr. (1999). Rails Through Manayunk. Telford, PA: Silver Brook Junction Publishing Company. 
  • Bezilla, Michael (1980). Electric Traction on the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1895-1968. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0271002417. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Spivey, Justin M. (April 2000). "Pennsylvania Railroad, Manayunk Bridge". Historic American Engineering Record. Washington,D.C.: Library of Congress. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  2. ^ Wolf, Albert M. (February 9, 1918). "New Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge at Manayunk, Pa.". Railway Review 62 (6): 194–199. 
  3. ^ Veksler, Rafail; Thorat, Abhay P. (September 1999). "The Arch Bridge Mystery". Civil Engineering 69 (9): 48–51. 
  4. ^ a b c Williams, Gerry (1999). Trains, Trolleys & Transit: A Guide to Philadelphia Area Rail Transit. Railpace Newsmagazine. p. 84. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Ivy Ridge Green
  7. ^ Moselle, Aaron (January 8, 2011). "City secures $1.3 million for Manayunk Bridge trail". Retrieved 2011-09-08. 

External links[edit]