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Pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers alike can celebrate as the Philadelphia Art Commission approved the final design for the South Street Bridge reconstruction.

With the approved motion, which took place at an Art Commission meeting in Center City yesterday, the bridge construction, which began in December, can continue on schedule.

"We now have the blessing of the Art Commission," said Marcia Wilkof, democratic leader of the 30th Ward.

The approved plan includes bike lanes, wider sidewalks and observation points along the bridge to view the cityscape. The observation decks are located under towers that rise from the base of the bridge.

The towers, constructed with frosted glass and stainless steel, will contain energy-efficient LED lighting, which gives them a glowing effect at night, and can be programmed with different patterns and colors.

During the day, the towers will produce a "crystalline pattern" as sunlight reflects off the glass and steel, said project designer James Templeton of H2L2, the firm behind the bridge design.

The "lanterns" continue below the bridge deck, stopping at the concrete bases of the bridge.

Jim Campbell, executive director of the South Street Bridge Coalition, was pleased with the decision of the Commission.

"It's been a wonderful process," he said. "We were confident that the Art Commission would approve the design."

However, there was some dissent from the Commission over the design's energy efficiency.

One member called the design a "missed opportunity" to participate in the Philadelphia Greenworks plan, Mayor Michael Nutter's initiative to be the "greenest" city in the country.

Though the bridge incorporates bicycle lanes and LED lighting, the commission suggested more could be done to further the energy efficiency of the bridge, such as using solar-powered pedestrian lights.

According to Campbell, the Coalition has supported a green bridge from the onset. "Whether it can be done or not is more of an engineering issue," he said.

The final bridge design differs from the originally-proposed design, largely because of pedestrian and safety issues. The towers were modified to be more open, with over 11 feet between the ground and the lanterns, and the number of car lanes was decreased from five to four to create more room for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Other changes included slight revisions to the design of pedestrian lighting and modified guardrail embellishments.

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