Repairs to America’s Oldest Stone Bridge Begin in Northeast Philly

Expect traffic delays as a result of the work on the 320-year-old Frankford Avenue Bridge.

The Frankford Avenue Bridge. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons.)

Did you know that the country’s oldest continually operating stone bridge is located right here in Philadelphia?

Built by hand in 1697, the Frankford Avenue Bridge in Northeast Philly was initially constructed for the passage of horse-drawn carriages over the shallow run of Pennypack Creek. The age of the 73-foot-long stone bridge and wear from 15,000 vehicles crossing its span each day have led PennDOT to declare the Frankford Avenue Bridge “structurally deficient.”

In order to save the crumbling bridge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, repair work is set begin on Monday and traffic delays are expected. For the next five months, the connecting road will be closed and detoured between Solly Avenue and Ashburner Street. Motorists on Frankford Avenue will be detoured over Rhawn Street, Torresdale Avenue, and Linden Avenue.

The $3.2 million restoration project is part of PennDOT’s larger $7.2 million program to renovate seven structurally deficient bridges in Philadelphia as well as Montgomery and Delaware counties. Through the end of August, workers will tear up the bridge’s deck and sidewalk before disassembling its stone arches. Once the leaks are plugged, special mortar will be used to place the original rocks where they belong.

Because of the span’s historic status, the project had to be approved by the federal Department of the Interior. Pennsylvania is home to six of America’s 10 oldest stone bridges.