Monday, August 23, 2010

Wissahickon Gateway Ready for Engineering Study

As reported earlier this year, the most critical gap in Philadelphia's Schuylkill River Trail, the Wissahickon Gateway, finally received some funding in early 2010 to begin the process of figuring out how to improve this section.   Currently, trail users are forced to weave in and out of motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic around an overcrowded and heavily used intersection of major roads, bus routes and highway onramps.  The trail  needs a new bike/ped bridge over the Wissahickon Creek and an alignment that winds behind and in between several parcels between Kelley Drive and where Main Street.  PA's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources provided a $50,000 grant to the City of Philadelphia to conduct an engineering study early in 2010, which the City has matched with its own funds.  Last Friday, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department posted a "Request for Proposals" to study this section of the trail.  Prospective consulting firms are directed to the City's econtract page and to click on "new contract opportunities."  There is a mandatory pre-bid meeting on August 30th and the deadline for submitting proposals is September 15th.
Rendering of potential new riverfront trail from Schuylkill Project


David Dannenberg said...


There exist a pair of bridge abutments just down stream of the Ridge Avenue. They are constructed of massive stone and rise well out of the flood plain. I am not an engineer, but I have observed that they have survived several hurricanes in my lifetime alone and are certainly older than I am. They are of a size that indicates that they supported a road or rail bridge.

I haven't looked carefully at the property access issues, but those abutments seem to me to be obvious candidates to support a new bridge. They would need new tops (poured concrete, maybe faced with stone?).

There are many ways to build bridges. ET Techtonics, a local firm, builds fiberglass bridges. I suspect that they could manufacture a pedestrian-bike bridge for this location for under $100K.

I mention this because it seems to me that over the years more has been made out of a pedestrian-bike bridge than needs to be.

The timing of this with the construction work being done on the entire Gustine Lake interchange is good. I would hate to see that construction completed in a way that interfered with good trail design. At least if the trail is designed quickly perhaps there is a chance that if changes to the interchange would improve trail design, those changes could be made. If the trail is done after the road construction, it is a pretty sure bet that no changes to the roads could be accommodated.

Again, so glad that this is finally under way. Let us hope it moves quickly.

David Dannenberg