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Casual strolls across a nearly-deserted Walnut Street near Hill House will become ill-advised within the next few months, when thousands of motorists reclaim the Walnut Street Bridge. The 94-year-old bridge, which spans the Schuylkill River from 24th to 32nd streets, was closed in January 1988 so that it could be rebuilt. "We recognize that it would be a great relief to that entire area," Morasco said. It will also make it easier for students to walk to Center City. The new bridge is two feet wider, with four 11-foot travel lanes and two eight-foot sidewalks. The ornate wrought-iron pedestrian guardrail has been replaced with concrete walls. The project cost about $28 million, and was both federal- and state-funded. Its opening awaits final work on traffic signals and protective barriers. Unanticipated problems discovered during the final inspection could cause delays, Morasco said. While Walnut Street near 33rd and 34th streets will be busier after the opening, Morasco said she does not expect large increases in traffic further west on Walnut Street. While the bridge was closed, motorists were re-routed to open bridges, such as the South Street bridge next to Franklin Field, and returned to Walnut to continue westbound. Morasco said that throughout the project, the contractor has been ahead of schedule. Rob Buckley, the project superintendent, called the reconstruction "difficult," but added that it went smoothly. Buckley said that hundreds of workers participated in the project. He said that for every one worker on the project site, there were eight in architects' offices, manufacturing plants and other project-related work.

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