Man crashes car into wall at historic Pennypack Creek bridge

An Ox­ford Circle man with a sus­pen­ded li­cense was in­jured crit­ic­ally when he crashed in­to a stone wall on Frank­ford Av­en­ue’s Pennypack Creek Bridge early Sat­urday, dam­aging the 316-year-old via­duct as well as a state his­tor­ic­al mark­er erec­ted there just six months ago.

The single-vehicle ac­ci­dent oc­curred at about 12:38 a.m. when the driver of a north­bound 2001 Neon failed to ne­go­ti­ate a bend at Solly Av­en­ue, crossed the south­bound lane and struck the stone wall head-on, po­lice said. The car also toppled the blue sign­post and plac­ard bear­ing the Pennsylvania seal and a brief in­scrip­tion de­tail­ing the bridge’s his­tor­ic­al sig­ni­fic­ance.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the mo­tor­ist as Wil­li­am Bell, 48, of the 6100 block of Elm­hurst Ter­race. He was not wear­ing a seat belt and be­came lodged un­der­neath the vehicle’s dash­board. Emer­gency re­spon­ders ex­tric­ated him and took him to the trauma unit at Aria Health-Tor­res­dale in crit­ic­al con­di­tion with un­spe­cified in­jur­ies. Au­thor­it­ies did not dis­close his latest con­di­tion. No oth­er in­jur­ies were re­por­ted.

Last year, area his­tor­i­ans and civic groups raised hun­dreds of dol­lars and com­pleted a thor­ough ap­plic­a­tion pro­cess to earn a his­tor­ic­al des­ig­na­tion for the bridge, which is con­sidered the na­tion’s old­est road­way bridge in con­tinu­ous use. It is also con­sidered an en­gin­eer­ing land­mark.

The por­tion dam­aged in the ac­ci­dent is an ex­ten­sion of the ori­gin­al 1697 bridge and was built about two cen­tur­ies later to ac­com­mod­ate high­er traffic volume and street­cars. Loc­al his­tor­i­ans vowed to re­store the bridge and mark­er. •• 

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