Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be reopened to vehicle traffic Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. as planned, city officials announced Tuesday, but the drive will stay closed south of Sweetbriar Drive because of needed repair work to the MLK Jr. Bridge.
The drive has been closed to vehicles from Falls Bridge to Eakins Oval since March 2020, and during the pandemic the roadway become a popular spot for bicyclists, walkers, and runners.
“An inspection to the underside of the MLK bridge found one of the connections of the steel framing to be about 75% deteriorated. As a result, we will have to keep the bridge closed to traffic until the rehab construction,” Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for transportation, said in a statement.
“For now, the bridge can stay open and is still safe for pedestrians and bicycles, but no motor vehicles will be able to use the bridge until the full rehabilitation project is complete,” Carroll said. The city said the repair project was expected to be completed in 2024.
The city will continue to close the drive for weekend recreational use and city holidays from Falls Bridge to Eakins Oval through the end of October.
Some advocates had hoped the city would keep the four-mile stretch along the Schuylkill fully closed to cars, while residents in nearby neighborhoods rely on it to bypass traffic jams on the Schuylkill Expressway.