After considerable time, energy, fundraising and planning (since the early aughts), the Schuylkill Crossing (also known as the Gray’s Ferry Crossing) is a bridge project poised to kick off. It will connect the Gray’s Ferry Crescent to the soon-to-open-in-2017 Bartram’s Mile with a bike/ped friendly crossing. But, it can’t go forward until the Federal Highway Administration determines what kind of structure can be allowed to be built.
How should these two trails be connected? Some kind of structure over the River is needed to bring these two trails together and close another gap in the Schuylkill River Trail between the Art Museum and Bartram’s Garden. Currently, at the point where this connection can happen, a railroad truss sits in the open position since Conrail abandoned the rail line in 1976. Whatever type of bridge is built, it must also accommodate tugboats bringing oil to the Veolia Energy plant at Christian Street.
That’s the subject of an open house scheduled for January 5th at Bartram’s Garden. The public are invited to give their input on the project in general and their thoughts on the six (6) different alternatives. We need the bicycling community to come out and make their voice heard!
The six alternatives under consideration include:
- no – build
- Rehab the current trust with new mechanism
- Fixed bridge at 50 feet elevation
- Gray’s Ferry Bridge
- New moveable bridge at 26′ elevation
- Rehabilitate the existing truss with new lifting mechanism
It is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s position that Alternative #5 is the best and most viable alternative. The Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) has raised the funds necessary to build Alternative #5, a new moveable (swing) bridge, and it is the bridge that will close the gap in the trail in the shortest time frame. The funding for Alternative #5 is in place (grants have been awarded by the state and federal government and city capital funds have been dedicated), and construction can start once the FHWA approves it. The other alternatives are either not desirable (#1, #3 or #4) or will set the project back many years because the funding is not in place to rehabilitate the existing truss (#2 and #6).
We urge you to go to the January 5th open house and voice strong support for this project in general and for Alternative #5 in particular. Philadelphia and the entire region that benefits from the Circuit needs the new swing bridge to be built NOW with grants funds in place.