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New life for Old Bridges

| Oct 17, 2013

Not all bridges can be rehabilitated to serve vehicular traffic. However, historic bridges may be rehabilitated to provide a vital connection for bike and pedestrian use.  Out of service and abandoned rail road bridges provide a unique opportunity for redevelopment. A SmartPlanet article explores the new wave of re-purposed railroad bridges in Want an old bridge? Many cities say yes.

The most popular example may be the High Line in New York City which provides pedestrian-friendly and accessible recreational opportunities and has spurred economic activity promoting new food vendors in communities along the elevated park.  In Pennsylvania, there are emerging opportunities to preserve and give new life to out of service railroad bridges. In Harrisburg, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission is exploring options to improve transportation connections across the Susquehanna River. An open house scheduled for Tuesday, October 22 at 6:00pm will present findings from the Cross-River Connections study. Bridges included in the study are: Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge, Walnut Street Bridge, Market Street Bridge and Cumberland Valley Railroad Bridge.  One proposal under consideration is the redevelopment of the Cumberland Valley Railroad Bridge into a bike and pedestrian path. The meeting will be held at the Lemoyne Borough Hall. For more information, visit:

In Philadelphia, there is a grassroots movement led by Friends of the Rail Park to convert the historic elevated Reading Viaduct and City Branch rail cut into a continuous three-mile linear park and recreation path connecting several neighborhoods and Fairmount Park. For more information visit: