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Are Philadelphia area bridges protected to prevent collapse similar to Baltimore's?

Do Delaware River bridges have protective measures in place to prevent collapse?
Do Delaware River bridges have protective measures in place to prevent collapse? 02:51

CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) -- The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland has Philadelphians wondering about our city's bridges. What safety measures are in place in case something like that were to happen in Philadelphia?

Almost 20 years ago, the Delaware River Port Authority conducted a threat assessment, asking: What more could be done to protect these bridges? The key takeaway: a major upgrade was needed for the piers.

As of today, the main piers supporting the Commodore Barry Bridge connecting Chester and Logan Township, are surrounded by a protective rock island.


"So these bridges sit on concrete piers that are in the river and we have rock islands in place that would cause a ship to run aground before it would strike the piers," Delaware River Port Authority CEO John Hanson said. 

Hanson and Chief Engineer Mike Venuto told CBS News Philadelphia they're confident the four Delaware River crossings are well-protected, given design improvements, including piers that similarly protect the Betsy Ross Bridge.

"We believe that the protective systems that we have in place now are capable of dealing with any of the types of threats that we will see," Hanson said. 

Both the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin bridges have support structures well out of reach of the main shipping channel, according to the DRPA.


"There are structural steel towers that suspension cables are attached to that sit on a foundation and the water that they're is protected by a timber protection system, but it is too shallow for a ship to get into those areas," Hanson said. 

Aside from the modifications and upgrades already along these bridges, CBS News Philadelphia was told inspections for integrity, safety and security are routine.

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