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. ••