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Released: 6/29/2006 

DRPA Unveils “Ben Franklin Bridge, 80 Years of History” Banner

In celebration of the 80th birthday of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Authority officials today unveiled the “Ben Franklin Bridge, 80 Years of History” banner that will adorn the bridge toll plaza as part of a summer commemoration of DRPA's first bridge spanning the Delaware River. In addition, the Authority will host a special children's reading program and as the summer progresses, a web-based learning center will be launched. Starting July 1, DRPA will welcome visitors to its website to view “80 Years of History.” This gallery will include DRPA's treasured photo archives which depict Ben Franklin Bridge history from construction to present day. On July 6, DRPA will host a special session of its READ STRONG program to celebrate the birthday of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Gene Barretta, author of the book, “Now and Ben” will read to approximately 50 school-aged children from summer camp programs in Philadelphia and Camden. The children will “meet” Ben Franklin and participate in a birthday party for the bridge complete with cake and party favors. Each child will receive a signed copy of the book to take home. The READ STRONG program will be held at One Port Center, DRPA's headquarters building. Over the course of the summer, DRPA will launch “Kids Zone” a special section of the website dedicated to educating children about DRPA. “Kids Zone” will include downloadable, skill-based activity sheets and a pictorial history of the Ben Franklin Bridge. “DRPA is proud of the rich history of the Ben Franklin Bridge,” said John J. Matheussen, DRPA's Chief Executive Officer. “We invite the entire region to join us this summer in celebrating 80 Years of Ben Franklin Bridge history.” The Ben Franklin Bridge, originally named the Delaware River Bridge, opened to traffic on July 1, 1926 as the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is one of only a few bridges in the country that can accommodate three modes of transportation (vehicular, commuter rail and pedestrian). The Ben Franklin Bridge is considered an icon for the Philadelphia region. The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation and development agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, the PATCO High Speed Line, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry System.

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