Rush-hour PATCO riders and Benjamin Franklin Bridge commuters should set their alarm clocks ahead a few minutes early starting this Friday.
Both are going to be crowded for the next two months.
The transit agency will close a lane of motor vehicle traffic along the bridge as well as one eastbound train track during peak hours for the next 60 days as it continues its overhaul of the bridge’s transit corridor.
PATCO’s goal is to first replace tracks along the south end of the bridge.
“The tracks are reaching the end of their useful life,” said Michael Conallen, deputy PATCO CEO.
Construction will return again in the fall for another 50 days while crews replace tracks on the north side.
The far-right lane lane carrying motorists into New Jersey will be closed 24 hours a day starting Friday for construction workers’ vehicles and supplies.So, during rush hour, three lanes will be open as opposed to four. During the off-peak hours, two lanes will be closed.
“We acknowledge that this is going to cause our riders a great inconvenience and frustration,” Conallen said. “We’re taking these steps to make sure the tracks. … [are] as safe and in the best possible condition that we can achieve.”
“Because the train goes over a suspension bridge. To do work on the track, you have to take it out of service. That means we only have one track to send our customers over the bridge,” he said. “By doing the work now, we would impact less customers than we would if we did it at the height of our ridership during the year.”
Also, added Fran O’Brien, spokeswoman for the Delaware River Port Authority, “a lot of people are on vacation.”
The closures will take place during daylight hours as needed throughout the week and will affect counter-commuting traffic — or traffic moving in the direction opposite the main rush-hour flow.
• During the morning rush hour, for example, the eastbound far south lane will be closed, leaving two lanes of traffic moving toward New Jersey.
• The DRPA advises motorists to cross the Walt Whitman Bridge during evening rush hour until the 60-day closure ends in late July or early August.
• The two-year track rehabilitation project is slated for completion in early 2015, officials said on Tuesday.