The current Court Street Bridge was created as part of the Downtown East Urban Renewal Project. Construction of the bridge began in 1970 and was completed in 1971. The bridge was built as part of a plan to expand the traffic capacity of Court and Cherry Streets to handle higher traffic volumes for a proposed enclosed shopping mall in downtown Reading spanning the 600 to 800 blocks of Penn Street.

Permits were issued in March of 1970 for the demolition and removal of buildings at 651-61 Penn St., including a theater; 663 Penn, 6-12 N. 7th St.; 727-29-31 Penn, 726-28 Court, and 733-35 Penn. The Court Street clearance prepared the way for construction of the new Court Street Bridge.

Below: Construction of new Court Street Bridge, 1970.

Preparation for construction of Court Street Bridge

Atco Construction Co. built the bridge for the Reading Redevelopment Authority. It involved demolishing and removing a ten-foot-wide wooden bridge within a 20-foot right-of-way, as well as the tight and short approaches to it. Metropolitan Engineers, Inc. of Philadelphia was chosen to oversee the rebuilding of the Court Street Bridge.

Below: Old Court Street Wooden Bridge.

Wooden Court Street Bridge

Below: Oct. 22, 1969 – workmen replace bricks gouged out of the support beneath the eastern end of the old Court Street Bridge. The damage was done by an oversize load on a Reading Co. freight train.

Wooden Court Street Bridge

Court Street was reconstructed with a new 60-foot right-of-way connecting Reed and Poplar streets. Reconstruction included the construction of a 446-foot-long structure with a continuous width of 50 feet. The span over the railway tracks is 64 feet long, with a continuous 34-foot highway and six-foot walkways on both sides of the bridge to 7th Street.

On October 8, 1970, the first of eight 64-foot-long concrete beams was suspended from supports on either side of the 7th street lines for the new Court Street Bridge. Railings were installed on May 12, 1971. Concrete was placed at the base of the bridge’s eastern and western ramps in June 1971. The Redevelopment Authority officially unveiled the new Court Street Bridge in June 1971. The bridge can carry 10,000 vehicles each day. The old wooden bridge it replaced could only accommodate 2,000 automobiles.

Below: New Court Street Bridge, July, 1971.

New Court Street Bridge

In the presence of the Reading Redevelopment Authority and other city authorities, Mayor Victor R. H. Yarnell crossed the $350,000 bridge for the first time on June 19, 1971.

Below: Court Street Bridge, 1975.

Court Street Bridge


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