As we reported a few months ago, the City of Philadelphia is in the middle of a project to improve crossings over CSX tracks that separate most of Center City from the banks of the Schuylkill River. To this point, this project has involved improving the surfaces and increasing the safety at the existing at-grade crossing points at Locust St. and Race St. The most expensive phase, the construction of a 680-foot pedestrian bridge that will begin in Schuylkill River Park, cross the CSX tracks, and end on the Schuylkill River Trail, was set to begin yesterday. Why has this nearly six million dollar project, funded by Federal Stimulus dollars, been delayed? Mostly because of local dog owners.
We here at Naked Philly love dogs and are particularly fond of the Schuylkill River Park dog run. It’s spacious, friendly, and has designated areas for small dogs and large dogs. Unfortunately, the dog run will be closed during construction of the pedestrian bridge. There will be a smaller, temporary dog run set up, but it will not compare to what people have enjoyed to this point. The good news: Once the Connector Bridge is constructed and installed, the original dog run will reopen with a larger footprint, improved landscaping, and high end technology to reduce the stink factor.
With the representation of one-and-a-half time 2nd district council candidate Damon K. Roberts, members of Citizens for Saving Schuylkill River Park have filed for an injunction to prevent construction from getting started. This group claims that they didn’t know anything about this project and that they have not had enough input for the bridge design or the future dog run. The fact that there were two large, well publicized public meetings on this subject must have escaped their attention. And since they didn’t attend the meetings, they couldn’t have realized that the design being implemented was VOTED ON BY THE COMMUNITY!!!
We don’t understand why people who feel passionately enough about an issue to get involved at the last possible moment wouldn’t have gotten involved earlier on. The Connector Bridge design process has been well publicized and transparent, with tremendous community involvement through every phase. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in October, 2012. Delaying the start of construction will not only add cost to this process, but will delay its completion.
According to Roberts, the City and the group will try to resolve this situation over the next thirty days. We just hope he doesn’t duck out at the 11th hour.
For a very useful history for this project, click here.