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Released: 1/22/2013 

Ice Storm & Artic Winds Caused Major Delays On Walt Whitman Bridge On Jan 21

During the night of Monday, Jan. 21, a fast-moving ice storm and arctic winds caused unusually slick conditions on the Walt Whitman Bridge.   Despite the fact that DRPA maintenance crews began salting the bridge shortly before 8 p.m., two tractor trailers broke down on the Walt Whitman Bridge.  The bridge roadway also was obstructed by two minor fender-benders and an traffic incident involving an intoxicated driver.   

The disabled trucks and auto accidents snarled traffic and made it difficult for salting trucks to make as many passes across the roadway as they normally would during or after an ice storm.   In addition, concrete barriers necessary for ongoing bridge construction made it impossible for road crews to make U-turns in midspan.

To complicate matters further, westbound traffic across the bridge backed up after PennDOT closed I-95 from the Blue Route to Packer Ave. (South Philadelphia).  Vehicles headed from the Walt Whitman Bridge to I-95 South were bottle-necked in a detour to Front Street in Philadelphia.

The only way the DRPA could salt the road surface safely and sufficiently was to move vehicles off of the bridge, close the bridge to traffic, salt the entire roadway and then re-open it to traffic.  Consequently, the DRPA closed the Walt Whitman Bridge to traffic  from 10:50 p.m. until 11:06 p.m. and again from 11:49 until 1 a.m. so that salting crews could finish their work.

We regret any delays caused by the ice storm, and we will review our operations to see if we could have proceeded differently to hasten the progress of traffic.  At the same time, we hope you’ll appreciate that our road crews were responding to a number of variables well beyond DRPA control.

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